Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Norwegian Wood Read-Along: THE END

Norwegian Wood Read-Along

I'm participating on Reading Rambo's Norwegian Wood Read-Along.

People, I am behind.  Excuse me.  The reading was completed on time but the blogging... the blogging just wasn't coming to me and the job and the kids and all that sort of overtook me and so now here we are with my first post in a while and also the last post of the read-along.

Let's just get right to it - the Toru and Reiko sex scene was totally out of the blue and weird and full of literal wrinkles. I don't really know what to say about it other than it was really the only time that I got annoyed with the book.  I'm sure that if I dig into the meaning of their sexy-time then I can come up with some justification for it, but I don't really feel like it and I'm happy feeling smug over my WTF reaction.

Through the last few chapters we had Toru continuing to disengage with the world and his community.  He moved out of the dorm into his shack cottage, stopped speaking to Midori, said goodbye to Nagasawa, drinks whiskey and writes to Naoko.  He just dives head-first into this with the illusion that Naoko is going to eventually move into the cottage or some other place with him.  His world gets shaken up from time to time by Midori, but it's not until he realizes that he loves her that the illusion begins to show some cracks until it finally shatters with Naoko's death.  I guess the sexy-time with Reiko is suppose to represent some kind of closure for Toru, but it doesn't really work for me.  

But can we talk about the very end?  The last section rescued the book.  Please forgive me, I need to quote it in full:

I TELEPHONED MIDORI. “I have to talk to you,” I said. “I have a million things to talk to you about. A million things we have to talk about. All I want in this world is you. I want to see you and talk. I want the two of us to begin everything from the beginning.”
Midori responded with a long, long silence—the silence of all the misty rain in the world falling on all the new-mown lawns of the world. Forehead pressed against the glass, I shut my eyes and waited. At last, Midori’s quiet voice broke the silence: “Where are you now?”
Where was I now?
Gripping the receiver, I raised my head and turned to see what lay beyond the telephone booth. Where was I now? I had no idea. No idea at all. Where was this place? All that flashed into my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again, I called out for Midori from the dead center of this place that was no place.
Midori and Toru's relationship had always been sort of one-sided.  As I said before, Toru just sort of reacts to whatever is going on around him without ever really being fully present.  As the book ends, Toru is snapping to reality.  He tells Midori that there are a million things he wants to talk about.  "I want the two if us to begin everything from the beginning."  When I imagine this scene, Toru is excited and happy ready to explode with joy.  Toru!  Who never does anything but mope and follow girls around!  But it's Midori who is cautious and asks where Toru is NOW.  Toru is in a new place, he's in the moment, he's PRESENT and ready, but he realizes that he NEEDS Midori.  Everything else is out of focus and unimportant.  As the book closes, he's calling out to Midori, calling for her to pull him from this dead place that he's been wallowing in and into life.

We don't know how it turns out.  It's left pretty open and there's a part of me that likes it left hanging out there.  I like to think that Midori tells him that she loves him and they have a wonderful and exciting life together.  I like to think that after being adrift and separated from life, Toru finally finds joy and that Midori finds stability in Tory.

Final thoughts?  I liked Norwegian Wood a lot.  It's not a prefect novel, but I fell in love with most of the characters and I was pulling for them to find whatever it was that they were each looking for.  There are other Murakami novels that I've liked better, but Norwegian Wood is still among his best.

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