Posted September 28, 2008on:
My hard disk died last week. The recovery program has been running for nearly a week now. Barely 75% of the space is searched at this point. The ETA is like, i am not going to get to all the recovered files by the end Independence Day. After that, there is this gigantic, daunting task of restoring the directory structure of more than 2 million single files. Talk about having fun.
The good thing is this leaves me with much more reading time than usual. In fact, I spent the weekend and the few hours I had after work in the previous week reading. To the point that I feel dizzy when any printed matter comes into sight.
A couple months ago I read both the Chinese and English version of Norwegian Woods. It is a good book, though hardly a classic as people claimed. I like it and therefore borrowed some more books from Murakami from Ann. This is one of them. At first, i left it in the car and only read it when i was waiting for something to happen. Naturally, it took me months to finish like fifty pages. However, the book is written in such a way that I was getting increasingly curious about what is going to happen.
Therefore last Thursday, since my company was moving to a new location and all servers were down and no one could do any work, I picked up the book from the car and brought it home. Since then i could hardly put down the book until it is finished.
This is definitely an interesting book. Murakami visits many themes all at once, such as isolation, despair and human perception. There are people who find the exposition fantastic, while I am not a big fan. In the end, in my quest to finish the book, I skipped most of the paragraphs when he launched into any philosophical discussions. I would rather watch the Matrix trilogy again if I feel like a treatment of these topics.
There are chapters that are beautifully written, such as the story of Lieutenant Mamiya in Outer Mangolia. The words evoke such vividity and horror that I had to stop for a day to continue my reading. And Murakami continues exerting his magic pen that turns mundane everyday happenings into feelings and surprises.
However, I do feel the writing is not consistently good. In fact, the entire book does not feel consistent at all. The inconsistency manifests in two areas. First, some chapters feel like not needed at all. For example, towards the end, what is it about all the letters from the teenage girl May Kasahara? Removing all these letters won’t affect the fiction much. Secondly, he left so many loose ends untied that I felt so unsatisfied at the end of the book. A major motivation that kept me going is I was so intrigued by his characters and plots that I really wanted to find out how he could end the book and tie everything together. But he did not and i was so disappointed. For example, who is the bar singer? who is the hollow man? Why Lieutenant Mamiya is in the book? I thought his story would reveal some connections between Toru Wataya and Nutmeg Askara but it did not. Who are those people Cinnamon saw as a child and therefore lost his voice? What does that scene represent? Why Nutmeg’s husband is murdered in such a violent way and who did it? There are just awful lot of unanswered questions.
All in all, Murakami needs to work on his structure and I kind of lost my interest in continuing reading his books. I don’t understand why other people are so enthusiastic about this book. It seems it is one of his classics. If anything, Norwegian Woods at least has a touch of sensitivity and earnest. I don’t know what other people find in this one. I found weird stories. At least, I am not going to read any of his longer works for a while. Maybe I will try the collection of his short stories. That might leave a better impression.