17 January 2012

Norwegian Wood Readalong: Part Deux

So, is it just me, or have the rest of y'all had "Norwegian Wood" stuck in your heads all week, too? I've been whistling and humming it at every turn.  And am I the last one to know about the film adaptation to be released in the US later this year?  I found it quite by accident today when looking for the Hunger Games trailer to watch.

All of this is to delay my discussion of the book, which I confess I find little pleasure in reading.    Though I did finish the reading this week, I found the two assigned chapters tedious, indeed, which makes me fear that perhaps I'm too pedestrian to appreciate Murakami's subtleties.  What I cannot determine is whether it's a lack of understanding the cultural differences or my lack of sophistication getting in the way.  

What's up with this passage in chapter 6: "I'm saying you shouldn't use yourself up in some unnatural form.  Do you see what I'm getting at? It would be such a waste. The years nineteen and twenty are a crucial stage in the maturation of character, and if you allow yourself to become warped when you're that age, it will cause you pain when you're older. It's true."

And I noticed on the back cover of my edition that the LA Times Book Review said that this was "easily the most erotic of [his] novels." I wonder at that when there are passages like this in the book (and last week somebody else already pointed out Murakami's use of her "opening" in a sex scene): "If he wanted to play with my breasts or vagina, I didn't mind at all, or if he had semen he wanted to get rid of, I didn't helping with that, either." Erotic? I don't think so.

Still, the loony bin Ami Hotel was a pretty interesting place, though it's hard to imagine such a place here in the US.  And Reiko's piano student was a real piece of work (though the writing was on the wall for that one).

Basically I have three words for Murakami at this point: More Midori, please.

Sorry for being so down on the book this week; I hold out hope that by the time I come to the end that my opinion may change.  What about y'all?  What did you take away from this week's reading? 


  1. I'm pretty sure I read something about Murakami either winning or being a finalist for the "Bad Sex in Fiction" award...several times. You're not alone in questioning the "erotic" content (ew - anyone who actually says that, I would hasten to guess, is going to have a hard time having any "erotic content" in their real life). You're also not alone in not getting Murakami. But good for you for trying!

  2. Oh huzzah! Because I am so not into this book. Hosting the readalong is the one thing keeping me going, because there are OTHER BOOKS that I know I would enjoy infinitely more. But I guess it's good to have at least SOME Murakami under your belt, right?

    And YES I've had Norwegian Wood stuck in my head all the time. Blasted book.

    "'If he wanted to play with my breasts or vagina, I didn't mind at all, or if he had semen he wanted to get rid of, I didn't helping with that, either.' Erotic? I don't think so."

    Ahahahaha There's definitely a translation issue there. Or an issue with Murakami not writing eroticism well. One of those.

  3. LOLz on the getting rid of semen quote. I snickered to myself when I read that.

    I didn't personally find the reading tedious, but I think I can understand how you may have felt that way. But I don't think you're missing anything. The text is fairly straightforward for the most part.

    The quote where Reiko talks to Toru about using himself up may have to do with nature of sleeping with people you don't care about. I think she's saying that it's natural for us to have an emotional bond with the people with whom we sleep, so to have meaningless sex is like exerting emotional energy into nothingness. And if your emotional life is got all this emptiness at an age in which we really FIND ourselves, then you've got a recipe for becoming a damaged person.

    But if it's not working for you then that's totally okay (I'm okay, you're okay, let's hug.). There's a bunch of Midori in the next chapters and we'll see if that perks you up!

  4. More Midori please is, I'm sure, echoed by everyone else! Love. Her. I do sort of kind of love the whole thing though...

    Oh yeah, and I have totally had Norwegian Wood stuck in my head for this whole month! And I've also listened to it more than in the rest of my life as well... Damn that's a good song!

  5. I'm side-eyeing the LA Times Book Review for that back cover blurb, too. Unless their definition of erotic consists of having random, extremely strange and uncomfortable sex scenes thrown in every once in a while.

    I didn't love Midori right off the bat, but now I'm really looking forward to seeing her again!

  6. You're so right...these descriptions are not erotic. It's like a fourth-grader TRYING to be erotic. Although the part where Reiko describes her encounter with the piano student was a little more on the steamy side.

    Here's a thought: Maybe the erotic parts haven't happened yet. This thought terrifies me.

  7. Yes Murakami - more Midori! These last 2 chapters took forever to get through because I love vivacious characters like Midori. Now that Toru's back to the "real world", we should see more of her. Hopefully. If Nakao hasn't jeopardized his relationships with her "don't forget me, like, ever" request.

  8. "Maybe the erotic parts haven't happened yet. This thought terrifies me."

    Megs, I love you. Yeah, I said it. DEAL WITH IT.

  9. Alice, ours is a forbidden love.

  10. You seem soooo reasonable so please HELP! I found your blog in the usual way - stalking, I guess - and was instantly intrigued by the whole Norwegian Wood thing.
    Mostly by the fact that the book has been made into a movie which might actually play in cities other than NYC one of these days! I was particularly intrigued because my blog is all about movies based on books and I didn't know about this one. YUCK. Total humiliation. Anyway, what I need HELP with is this whole reading challenge thing. What is it? And where are the comments? I clicked on the rambo reads link and couldn't find it. Okay, that's my rambling post and by the way, I love your blog and your life. I read your About You section aloud to my husband; how I would love to work at an indie book store. SIGH!
    Thanks, Sim at Chapter1-Take1

  11. Norwegian Wood Readalongers: Sorry for no comments from me this week. I was in New Orleans with only a phone for internet access and I just couldn't do it. Not when there were beignets to be eaten and sazeracs to be drunk.

    Sim, the way you can see all of the comments is to follow all of the blogs in this link on Reading Rambo (the host site): http://reading-rambo.blogspot.com/2011/12/readalong-poll-results.html

    If there's a simpler way to do it, I don't know what it is. But now I've subscribed so that all posts in the readalong challenge will show up in my Blogger thingy. Yeah, I like to use the techinical terms like that.


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