Norwegian Wood wasn’t my first Murakami’s book, but after putting it down last January, it remained my favourite book from one of the most celebrated author in the literary world. Norwegian Wood is a beautifully melancholic book. I found myself underlining my favourite lines with pencil and dog-eared pages with my favourite parts of the story. Norwegian Wood isn’t a linear story, but rather, it’s a storytelling of one’s life. The entire plot itself was meant to tell a journey, growth and experience. And because of that, this book was meant for people who wanted to experience the thoughts, emotions and feelings of the characters, rather than enjoying a certain plotline. Norwegian Wood is like that – it’s like having conversations with you, ask you questions and gives you words of comfort when you need it. It makes you experience a handful of emotions – grief, loneliness, solitude, curiosity, joy, indifference, faith, content, nostalgic, inadequate, sorrow, longing, desire, amusement and everything else.
Okay, I might have misled you. But here are the dog-eared pages of my own copy of Norwegian Wood.
1. Midori’s tale of living with one bra to save money.
When I was in the sixth-form, I had to have an egg fryer – a long, narrow pan for making this dashimaki-style fried egg we’re eating. I bought it with the money I was supposed to use for a new bra. For three months I have to live with one bra. Can you believe it? I’d wash my bra at night, go crazy trying to dry it, and wear it the next day. And if it didn’t dry right, I had a tragedy to deal with. The saddest thing in the world is wearing a damp bra. I’d walk around with tears pouring from my eyes. To think I was suffering this for an egg fryer!
2. On how guys view short-haired girls.
I thought I looked good myself once I cut it all off. Not one guy likes it, though, They all tell me I look like a concentration camp survivor. What’s this thing that guys have for girls with long hair? Facists, the whole bunch of them! Why do guys all think girls with long hair are the classiest, the sweetest, the most feminine? I mean, I myself know at least 250 unclassy girls with long hair. Really.
3. In Watanabe’s letter to Naoko.
People leave strange little memories of themselves behind when they die.
4. Reiko about Naoko’s depression.
She’s letting out her feelings. The scary thing is not being able to do that. When your feelings build up and harden and die inside, then you’re in big trouble.
5. Watanabe’s view of death as a part of life.
Death was not the opposite of life. It was already here, within my being, it had always been here, and no struggle would permit me to forget that.
6. Watanabe’s on memories and time.
And as the years have passed, the time has grown longer. The sad truth is that what I could recall in five seconds all too needed ten, then thirty, then a full minute – like shadows lengthening at dusk. Someday, I suppose, the shadows will be swallowed up in darkness.
7. On why you shouldn’t feel guilty on other people’s sorrows sometimes.
Things like that happen all the time in this great big world of ours. It is like taking a boat out on a beautiful lake on a beautiful day and thinking both the sky and the lake are beautiful. Things will go where they are supposed to go if you just let them take their natural course. Despite your best efforts, people are going to be hurt when it is time for them to be hurt. Life is like that.
8. I forgot who said this, but I love this.
Don’t let thoughts of me hold you back. Just do what you want to do. Otherwise, I might end up taking you with me, and that is the one thing I don’t want to do. I don’t want to interfere with your life.
9. Watanabe remembers Hatsumi and the waste for her to be dead.
In the midst of this overwhelming sunset, the image of Hatsumi flashed into my mind, and in that moment I understood what that tremor of the heart had been. It was a kind of childhood longing that had always remained—and would forever remain—unfulfilled. I had forgotten the existence of such innocent, all-but-seared-in longing: forgotten for years to remember what such feelings had ever existed inside of me. What Hatsumi had stirred in me was a part of my very self that had long lain dormant. And when the realization struck me, it aroused such sorrow I almost burst into tears. She had been an absolutely special woman. Someone should have done something—anything—to save her.
10. And lastly, something sweet about memories.
Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail.
Image via: Literary Inklings