There’s nothing that can bring back the memories of one you have loved quite so much as music. I hear the theme of Taxi (Bob James’ Angela), or the Stones singing Sympathy for the Devil, and I’m immediately overwhelmed by sensations connected to my first husband. I can feel him more when I’m listening to those musical strains than I can by trying to picture his face.
Toru Watanabe finds the same thing happens to him when he hears the Beatles’ Norwegian Wood. He is immediately so overcome by the memories of Naoke that he sits on the plane with his head in his hands, and the stewardess asks him if he’s okay. He’s just dizzy, he explains, but I know how much it hurts to relive a love affair which ended so abruptly. For how does one cope with suicide?
No matter how much pain the person who died must have felt, there must be little comprehension of the pain which is left behind. There is no resolution to the relationship, no farewell, no understanding as to why such a thing happened. “Surely,” we think, “if given the opportunity and the time, we could have fixed that broken heart.”
But Toru is left with his own broken heart to fix, and while he has a relationship with Midori upon which he can now fully focus, it does not eradicate the place which Naoko once occupied. No one can replace another.
I found myself writing down the names of authors Murakami included in his narrative, names like: Truman Capote, John Updike, Scott Fitzgerald, and Raymond Chandler whereas the rest of his peers “liked Kazumi Takahashi, Kenzaburo Oe, Yukio Mishima or contemporary French novelists…” (p. 30) He listed novels such as Beneath The Wheel by Herman Hesse, The Centaur by John Updike, and The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald which make me want to read all three. Even though I’ve already read the last one countless times.
I found myself writing down quotes, most especially from the beginning of the novel which I shared in an earlier post.
I found myself comparing Toru and I, and finding many similarities between us: we are both quiet, peaceful and lonely; we both like novels no one else seems to and are greatly affected by music. As well as lost love.
I found connections to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle within the pages of Norwegian Wood. Toru says, “I miss you something awful sometimes, but in general I go on living with all the energy I can muster. Just as you take care of the birds and the fields every morning, every morning I wind my own spring. I give it some thirty-six good twists by the time I’ve gotten up, brushed my teeth, shaved, eaten breakfast, changed my clothes, left the dorm, and arrived at the university. I tell myself, “O.K., let’s make this day another good one.” I hadn’t noticed before, but they tell me I talk to myself a lot these days, Probably mumbling to myself while I wind my spring.” (p. 197)
It’s wonderful to read several works by one favorite author because I feel like I’m getting to know him better with each novel I complete. Am I presuming to say that I know Haruki Murakami? Not at all. But, I love living in his world. One book at a time.