And just like that, Marukami’s done it again– strung me into his worlds of dreams, lust, prose and despair. This time, I didn’t feel as though I was on the cusp reality. Rather, I felt myself grounded in the meadows of Norwegian Wood.
“Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene, I hardly paid it any mind. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that eighteen years later I would recall it in such detail.
I didn’t give a damn about the scenery that day. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. It was the age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. The scenery was the last thing on my mind.”
Three summers ago, I first fell in love with his prose. I forget that first title (ah! Sputnik Sweetheart) but never the feeling. I remember sitting up late one night, the color pink burned beneath my eyes, swamped by wooly blankets, confusion and exhaustion. I don’t remember starting Sputnik Sweetheart. I also don’t remember finishing it. Like a dream, where you simply start in the middle, that’s where I found myself, mostly.
She, the main character, had seen her doppelgänger in a room of a hotel and on the top of a Ferris wheel. And the doppelgänger was doing strange things with strange men. And the girl, the real girl, wasn’t sure which was what or what was real. It eventually brought her to a sort of lucid, sustained hysteria. There were always cats in the story. Sometimes they left; other times, they returned. Even in Norwegian Wood, there was a stray cat that appeared, and embedded itself in the background.
Norwegian Wood was more somber. More sober. So excruciatingly detailed that I’m convinced the author experienced it himself. For days, I buried my nose in the book, taking it everywhere with me.
Boyfriend read aloud the last 20 pages to me. He read the last and saddest and darkest pages, occasionally mincing words. (“Keep reading!” I hissed and he shot a look at the door) I let Murakami paint worlds through words.