12 Books, 12 Months Book 1: Norwegian Wood

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norwegian-wood.jpgLook at me, getting ahead early on! On my red-eye flight last night, I finished my first "12 Books, 12 Months" book, Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood. The book is a pretty straightforward novel, a story about a college student in Japan in the late 1960s/early 1970s and the two women he falls in love with. It reminded me, at times, in a ways that seemed very self-conscious, of Catcher in the Rye. I'm told Murakami's other books have a strong supernatural element, but this one doesn't--it's about self-knowledge and growing up and all that good stuff.

I didn't dislike the book, but I didn't find it particularly compelling, either. My sympathy for the narrator, Watanabe, was fairly limited, and neither of the women--Naoko and Midori--resonated with me particularly strongly either. The characters all struck me as a little bit overwritten in their oddness.

I suspect the major problem with this book, for me, was that I've read a lot of book that were inspired by it. Published in the 80s, Norwegian Wood may have been insightful or really ground-breaking when it came out (though, given my persistent imagining of Watanabe as a Japanese Holden Caulfield, maybe not), but having read a lot of similar books, it struck me as a little bit trite.

For my next "12 Books, 12 Months" book, I'm headed back into non-fiction.

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