All month, I have been striving to appreciate this book. I was the stylishly dressed egg teetering on the narrow wall of tolerance . . . but these last two chapters were the comically oversized boxing glove that delivered the fatal blow.
|Me, in happier times.|
Toru! I made a lot of excuses for your behavior, and you made me wish I had never met you. I thought this was a turning point, when you told off Kizuki's ghost:
"Unlike you, I've chosen to live---and to live the best I know how. Sure, it was hard for you. What the hell, it's hard for me. Really hard. . . . I'm just going to keep on getting stronger. I'm going to mature. I'm going to be an adult. Because that's what I have to do. I always used to think I'd like to stay seventeen or eighteen if I could. But not anymore. I'm not a teenager anymore. I've got a sense of responsibility now. I'm not the same guy I was when we used to hang out together. I'm twenty now. And I have to pay the price to go on living." (p. 248)Yes to all of the above . . . if only you actually meant any of it. Alas, you pledged your eternal allegiance to a woman who doesn't even love you enough to STAY ALIVE. And Midori was the most tragic casualty of that false sense of responsibility. She was your best chance at a healthy relationship. Don't you think it would have been nice to date a girl who could be trusted near a razor blade? Wouldn't you rather spend your days talking about cookies and kissing in the rain than talking about death and NOT kissing in a sanatorium? DO YOU HAVE ANY SELF-RESPECT AT ALL?
You didn't listen to me, but I hoped you would at least listen to yourself:
"I loved Midori, and I was happy that she had come back to me. The two of us could make it, that was certain. As Midori herself had said, she was a real, live girl with blood in her veins." (p. 267)But no. Tell me, why do you say these things that sound reasoned and healthy and then DO THE EXACT OPPOSITE?
Your biggest reason for not pursuing this relationship with Midori was that you didn't know how to break the news to Naoko. Well, surprise, Naoko wasn't really thinking about you. She was practicing her rope-tying skills and picking out a tree. Then you were so upset by her death (are you sure you didn't see it coming? DUDE, WE ALL SAW IT COMING) that you left town and slept outdoors and had a pity party for a solid month. And when you chose to run away, you lost Midori again . . . because she DOES have self-respect.
After that, I thought surely you had made all the terrible decisions you could make. I mean, with only four pages left, what else could you do to provoke my wrath?
"We went inside and closed the curtains. Then, in the darkened room, Reiko and I sought out each other's bodies as if it were the most natural thing in the world for us to do." (p. 290)
I give up.
**NOTE: I made a new friend last weekend (Hi, Tommy!) who used to teach Norwegian Wood for a college course. He has posted some essay topics and discussion questions on his blog, and I plan to read them as soon as I can look at the book without screaming. They live here: http://accordprogression.wordpress.com/2012/01/25/conversation-peace-norwegian-wood-by-haruki-murakami/**