Monday, January 2, 2012

Early Murakami

Norwegian Wood is the fifth book that I have read by Haruki Murakami.  I think that last time I read 5 books by the same author, it was about 1980, and the author was Judy Blume.  Oddly, both authors like to write about women's periods, but that's another topic for another blog.  Norwegian Wood is the story of a college aged man, Toru, who is trying to find his way in the world while deciding which of the women in his life he should love.  It is also a story of the survivors coping with the suicide of a good friend.  Norwegian Wood is said to closely track Murakami's own life, and is purported to be the most autobiographical of his fictional works. 

My favorites of the other books that I have read by Murakami are Kafka on the Shore  and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.  Norwegian Wood, which came out earlier than the other two, mentions some of the subjects and concepts that will take on a greater importance in Murakami's later works, including wells, cats, feminine hygiene products, birds, and spring winding.  One of my favorite aspects of Kafka was the peaceful atmosphere that Murakami created in the library.  This is probably a replication or an expansion of the sanatorium of Norwegian Wood.  The characters comment about how comfortable Toru (Murakami) makes them feel.  I couldn't agree more.  Although this story is mostly one of loss, the reader feels lulled into a sense of security, along with the women who Toru loves.

If you haven't read a Murakami book, Norwegian Wood might be a good place to start.  Murakami has a new book out now, called IQ84, but all of the reviews that I have read indicate that it is not a good book for people new to Murakami, and is really for his biggest fans.  I'm not so sure that I'm ready for it yet, and might tackle some of his earlier works first.

Next up:  The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.  This will be the first book that I read for the Off the Shelf Challenge, and the first book that I read on my new kindle.

Still Listening to:  Empire Falls by Richard Russo

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