Patty (woodycakes) wrote,

Page Turner: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

I Heart Watanabe [Goodreads]
I have been pretty fascinated with the works of Haruki Murakami ever since I saw my sister, jamypye reading Sputnik Sweetheart (have you finished it, Pam?). The covers were pretty (I'm shallow, okay?!) and lusimeles seems to really enjoy them so I bought three of his books and set them aside. Then I saw that Rinko Kikuchi would be starring in the film adaptation of the book and it pushed it up on the list of books to read.

I didn't know what to expect when starting Murakami. On my first day though, I breezed through 100 pages. This is a good sign. By the end of the week, I finished the book and caught the film on a Sunday. Not a bad way to spend the week.

Let's start off by saying I had absolutely no difficulty reading the book. The lead character, Watanabe was as likable as the next guy and I just really was rooting for him. Whether it was reading about his roommate Storm Trooper or how much he missed Kizuki, his best friend, he was such a normal guy to me that I couldn't help but get drawn to him. Usually, leads have something special about them, something extraordinary and for me, I loved his ordinariness. Maybe it's just me though. He was special in his plain-ness.

That's why I felt for him when he couldn't get why Naoko could ever be interested in him (much more when Midori showed more interested). I loved how he and Naoko bonded over the loss of Kizuki. For me though, I felt like Naoko never really did feel for Watanabe the way he felt for her. I could be deluding myself, but all that time they were together, I felt like Naoko was just trying to fill a void that was left by Kizuki. Still, it doesn't mean she didn't love Watanabe, just not the way he wanted her to. Sure, she kept saying she wanted to get better for him but somehow I felt like it was all just stalling until she had the guts to just end her life or when she felt like she knew that there wasn't any curing her anymore.

I loved Reiko too. Reiko's back story was sad and I felt for her but I loved how she was there for Naoko the way no one could have been. And hey, she did form a nice friendship with Watanabe (and some intimate moments with him), so I guess she sort of wins in the end too. Plus she brings the title of the book to life with her playing Naoko's favorite Beatles song, Norwegian Wood. Oh look, it's the title!

But who I really absolutely loved was Midori. I don't know, perhaps I always feel for the girl that doesn't get the guy (or so I think) but Midori was just perfection for me. I agree with yled when she said she was on Team Midori because I think I am too. Sure, she had a boyfriend for a good part of the novel but she wasn't ever NOT upfront about her situation or her feelings for Watanabe. I loved how frank she was when speaking to him and about her feelings in general.

She brought so much life and entertainment to Watanabe's life. When she was hurt, I felt she was justified in it and when she brooded, I didn't mind. In fact, I was totally rooting for a Midori/Watanabe ending and because of the open-ending nature of the book leaves everything up for interpretation, I'll wishfully think that they ended up together and lived happily ever after together (though that probably wasn't the case).

I was surprised to find myself done with the book. I always want so much more and the book was careful and restraining itself and not giving too much away and yet it shared a lot of different insights and thoughts that were really just beautiful to read. Now I'm excited to read his other books.

[ Obsessed with Film]

Film Adaptation

And because I enjoyed the book so much, I had pretty high expectations of the movie. I know this shouldn't be the case, but with me, movies usually live up to the book -- I AM THAT easy to please. So when I caught the film, I couldn't help but feel a little letdown by it. This is me, Patty, the easiest person to please and yet this take on the novel felt lacking in something. I loved the rich descriptions of the thoughts and feelings of Watanabe in the book and get this would be hard to translate on screen. But still, I was hoping for much more.

In fact, I'd go as far as saying that I feel like it was great that I read the book because if I hadn't, Id' be lost lost lost. The general plot is understandable but there's so much left unsaid from the book. I don't know if the director meant for it to be this way, but some things came across differently on screen than the way it's played out in the book.

I didn't feel Midori's quirkiness as much or how much Watanabe did feel for her. I did feel Naoko's melancholy but not the strength of depth of emotion they attached to their letter writing. I felt Nagasawa's swagger but didn't see how Watanabe had humanized him in his head and then ended up hating him.

I'm not usually one to critique movies just because I have absolutely no objective basis for anything and even my subjectiveness is incoherent at most, but I just wished for so much more from the film. Still, it wasn't bad-bad. It was beautifully made and the shots of picturesque Japan were breathtaking to watch especially in light of the scenes we see from Japan post-earthquake/tsunami.

I wouldn't mind reading the book again and again but I'd probably give the movie just another watch with my sister if ever. Who knows, perhaps in time, it'll grow on me more.

Oh and in other book-to-movie news:
  • I'm sure everyone's heard of Jennifer Lawrence being cast as Katniss in The Hunger Games and though I was on the fence about her casting in the beginning, I'm going to hold out and save judgment for her performance. I'm also ten shades of excited for the casting of the other characters. Please let it be good.

  • And because I'm not sure how many people have finally read Warm Bodies, I'm hoping I'm not the only one excited that Nicholas Hoult has been in talks to star as R in the movie adaptation. How cute this real life couple (or so the rumors say) are both starring in adaptations of books I love. Fingers crossed for Hoult though!

    Even More Page Turner:
    Warm Bodies
    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  • Tags: books, movies
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