It’s official: Murakami’s novels don’t do it for me. Goodbye dude, we’re done. I can’t take it anymore. I read his memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and it got me fired up to be healthy, balanced, creative, and awesome. Then, I read his Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage and thought he had booby-trapped me into a colossal waste of time. Then, I read his short story collection, Men Without Women, and he sucked me back in his favor with a little tease--some stories were bad, but some stories were excellent. Then, I read one of his fan-favorites, Norwegian Wood*, and now I realize we should part ways.
Norwegian Wood is about death and sex. That's it! I’m no lit-prude, but the sex scenes were gratuitous. Let’s eat dinner -- okay, insert sex scene....let’s go to school -- okay, insert sex scene...let’s have an intense talk about suicide -- okay, insert sex scene. It took me so long to finish (wink, wink) the book because I knew it would just continue to recycle through the same old same old.
The dialogue does not feel natural to me and his similies continue to be hit or miss. He either completely and totally nails a feeling or he fumbles it entirely, leaving you more confused. In every Murakami fiction I've reviewed, I’ve called out a terrible simile. In Murakami fashion, I’ll continue the tradition here. One character says, “I’m just kinda tired. Like a monkey in the rain” (Murakami, 58). I like monkeys as much as the rest of you, but I don’t think people talk like this in casual conversation. I also don’t think that comparison is useful. It does have some nice imagery, but I’d be much more accepting if he was remotely selective. Instead, he’s like YOU GET A SIMILIE...AND YOU GET A SIMILIE! It’s extra.
I’ve decided that Murakami shoots his shot a little too much. He’s written so many books, and because most of them are lengthy, I’m scared to trust another one now. He has name recognition going for him for a reason. He can do some things very well. For example, he rocks at giving plainness a little vibration; as in, I enjoy the subtle life he injects into descriptions of ordinary feelings and actions. He’s skilled at making simplicity beautiful. Unfortunately, he throws a lot of trash in there with the beauty. Norwegian Wood* receives 2 out of 5 camel humps -- don’t @ me.
*Murakami, Haruki. Norwegian Wood. Trans. Jay Rubin. New York: Vintage Books, 2000. Print.