2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting
" 'Norwegian Wood' is still the one Murakami book that 'everyone' in Japan has read," says Jay Rubin in his Translator's Note of this simple, straightforward, semi-autobiographical story. Toru Watanabe as narrator of this 1960s period piece reminds me of Nick Carraway in Fitzgerald's "Gatsby"; Watanabe seems one step removed from the action even while he is part of it,...
Published on June 21 2001 by Laure-Madeleine
3.0 out of 5 stars Very convincing characters,deeply insightful perspective
37-year-old businessman Watanabe recalls his days as an 'ordinary' University student in the 70s and Norwegian Wood is his story.Through his narrating,the reader knows very convincing characters like Naoko (his beloved,ethereal gal whose importance I believe is pivotal as a deceptively simple romance for readers looking for a poignant 'love story'),very charming Reiko(who...
Published on Sept. 6 2003 by J Ng
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5.0 out of 5 stars Better than Anna Karenina,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)The best love story I have ever read. All of Murakami's works are excellent but this is his best. If you haven't read him then buy this book now - excellent - you will not put it down until you are down with it. Don't get me wrong Anna Karenina is a great novel and a classic by any degree but this novel is just a little better.
5.0 out of 5 stars So much life.,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)What a book.
This is Murakami's love ballad, a story that builds to a moving climax. There is so much life here.
Whereas 'a wild sheep chase' is bebop and 'a wind up bird chronicle' is free jazz, this book is a sad lovers ballad - with human frailty and sex and delusion and futility and ultimately affirmation and resolution.
One of the best novels I've ever read - comparable to Milan Kundera's 'the unbearable lightness of being,' only with Murakami's unique stamp.
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)Wow! I was completely enchanted by this lyrical novel. The character development is outstanding and the mood really grabs you and gives the words a sense of depth and intense presence.
Toru Watanabe is a young man coming into his own and deciding how to live. He does choose to live though, when so many others around him are choosing to die. It is powerful to see his struggles to "wind his spring" as so much comes crashing down around him and he deals with the monotony of life.
He is torn between two loves, until Reiko shows him that it is wonderful to be able to love at all, it is a gift, and that he should not feel bad for loving two women. Naoko and he have a relationship on the edge of life and death which intoxicates him and draws him to her. Midori is an amazing character (I absolutely loved her!) and so full of life that it helps keep him connected to the living world.
I especially enjoyed how sex was used in such creative ways. Sex was used to help us identify with the characters, to illuminate the difference between flesh and soul, to illustrate the frustrations of growing up, to form a friendship, to share passion, just to be alive!
This book did remind me of the Japanese version of The Catcher in the Rye, and Toru does read that novel quite often. There is just something about this book that transcends language and explanation. I loved this book and will definitely enjoy reading it again! A must read!
3.0 out of 5 stars Very convincing characters,deeply insightful perspective,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)37-year-old businessman Watanabe recalls his days as an 'ordinary' University student in the 70s and Norwegian Wood is his story.Through his narrating,the reader knows very convincing characters like Naoko (his beloved,ethereal gal whose importance I believe is pivotal as a deceptively simple romance for readers looking for a poignant 'love story'),very charming Reiko(who also has her strange,tantalising story to tell) and fickle,sensitive and frank Midori who, genuinely loves Watanabe.
Norwegian Wood surely deserves more than three stars for the author's deeply insightful perspective for all characters,including the lonely,young one-night-stander Watanabe.Obviously,the characters are so true-to-life that they could be strangers standing beside you,young adults reading Thomas Mann at a cafe or chatting in the pub with jazz buzzing around,or somebody playing piano in the restaurant you are sitting in.
Yet,from the author's pen,every character is bestowed a kind of tenderness ,sympathy and helplessness with their plights.Trust your intuition,the characters have no way out although they've tried their best like you and I.
The reason why I give it a three-star is the book doesn't give me what some reviewers have felt upon finishing.While admiring the author's sharp portraits of the characters(in fact,its so good that it doesn't feel you are reading Fiction at all!),as a reader I would have expected a louder,more engaging if not all- fair voice in a novel,instead of a blander,quieter piece like Norwegian Wood that reads deceptively like some popular pulps.
5.0 out of 5 stars I can only shake my head over this great book,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)What a book. My advice is to start early in the day, and preferably not on a work night. The book just can't be put down; I read it in one sitting! Murakami is a gifted story teller, even now I feel like I read it just yesterday. Like the other reviewers I am sure I will revisit this again in the future.
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning into an adult,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)Very nice book. It tells, in a very delicate and sensitive way, the story of a Young japanese boy getting out of his teens and going into adulthood. Life is hard, it is very tough to assume responsibilities and to measure one's reach towards other people. Although there is not very uncommon about this boy's life, it is also very unique in the sense that all his emotions and experiences are his own and no one else's. Not very different from ourselves, anywhere in the world. This book is full of common life day to day poetry. Highly recommended.
4.0 out of 5 stars Deceptively simple,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)I found that this book was hard to get into at first. I read about a chapter and a half and needed a break. Once I picked it up again, I was hooked.
Although on the surface this novel appears to be a simple coming of age tale, it goes much deeper than that. I found myself getting caught up in the creative way that Murakami uses setting to create tone and atmosphere in the story. The things going on in the background - the campus riots, dorm life, the sanitarium, etc., aren't just there to fill up space. They're integral to creating the mood the author needs to get across his themes. And his themes are very complex - issues to do with the nature of love, life, and loss in modern society. This is a very disturbing book, with some imagery (the sex scenes aren't thrown in here just to be titillating. In fact, the sex is some of the most disturbing I've read in serious fiction in a long time. But that's part of the point - he's showing how sex can actually be a means of creating distance rather closeness between people) although there is an element of hope in the end.
I didn't like the use of the flashback technique in this book. The novel starts with Toru, the main character, as an adult reflecting back on his life at age 20ish. Other authors (notably Wolff in Patterns of Childhood) have used memory as a device to better effect than Murakami did here. He could just as easily have started the novel with Toru at 19 and skipped the first chapter. The book doesn't particularly deal well with mental illness or suicide, in that I didn't particularly gain a whole lot more insight into either of those two issues than I had prior to reading the book.
Having said that, the reason this book is so gripping and kept me reading to the end is that Murakami created characters I could invest in and relate to. I cared about these people, and I wanted to know what happened to them. Naoko wasn't quite as fully fleshed out as Toru, or even Midori, but I think that fit; so much of she was was an image in Toru's mind. This novel is one where the use of the first person narrative was an brilliant choice on behalf of the author. It's vital to the story that everything is told from Toru's point of view. The dialogue is very good, too.
I can't compare this novel to any of the author's other work, as I haven't read any of it. I don't expect to rush out and read his other books, given how different they are purported to be compared to Norwegian Wood. I will say that if you are looking for a coming of age novel that still has appeal to those over the age of 25, this book is a good choice.
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)It is one of those books that comes along and sneaks up on you. By the time you put it down you realized that it has moved you. When Watanabe read Midori's letter I felt an emptiness in my stomach as if she had written the letter to me. The whole book is like this. You can't help but fall in love with the characters.
4.0 out of 5 stars Some choose to live...,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)I bought this book a long time ago, thinking it looked interesting, but it was probably two years before I actually got around to reading it. When I did, I just about devoured it, not because it is the best book in the world, but because it captures a particular time so well, and the choices one comes to in building a life philosophy.
Set in Japan in 1969 and 1970, it's the story of a young college student, Toru, and his "relationship" with a girl, Naoko, who was the girlfriend of his best friend, who killed himself a couple of years before. Toru's life isn't charmed, but he's making it through, despite his shortcomings and mistakes. Naoko has a harder time dealing with life itself, with her own and others' imperfections, and this inability to cope with the everyday eventually leads her down her own path. Toru attempts to understand her, be there for her, and love her as best he can. Being only 19 himself (at the beginning of the book), he's got a lot of growing up to do and decisions to make himself. In the end, he probably makes the only decision he can make without going crazy himself, but this is also not without a great deal of sadness.
The one gripe I have about this book is that there is quite a few sex scenes... This is played off, in part, to Toru's "craziness", but still was kind of weird. What I did enjoy, though, was the description of the few people closest to Toru, his roommate, whom Toru has nicknamed "Stormtrooper", Toru's only "friend" in the dorms, this guy's girlfriend, Midori, Naoko, and Naoko's roommate. Each is a different type of "crazy". Some have even realized as much, and it's interesting to see how each character deals with that in themselves, and as it pertains to living with the rest of this crazy world. And no, not everybody makes it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Quiet Beauty,
This review is from: Norwegian Wood (Paperback)It's amazing how a novel which is so fundamentally sad could somehow also be so redemptive. Sitting in an airplane and hearing an orchestra cover of a Beatles'song, Toru Watanabe remembers clearly the first girl he ever loved.
_Norwegian Wood_ is a book about suicide-- about a young man who has to choose between one girl longing to be with the dead and another girl who's trying to come back to life.
There's plenty of humor in the book, Midori is one of the most charming characters to be found in the modern novel. For all its sadness in its characters, the book is never really sad.
Going on my list to be given out as a gift for Christmas.
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Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (Paperback - Sept. 12 2000)
CDN$ 17.00 CDN$ 12.27