Isn’t it good, Norwegian Wood? Well no…

norwegian woodSo I’ve just realised I have *23* books to review!! Quite scary! Naturally, I decided to start with a book I had rather lacklustre opinions about, because I’m grouchy that way 😉

First off, the prose is pretty colourless, while serviceable. Now I wanted to start with this because I want to be as fair as possible to the author and say this *could* be one of those “lost in translation” cases. Therefore take (most) of what I’m saying with a pinch of salt.

Now, if I can let the writing off the hook, the one thing I can’t let go is that I didn’t relate to or like any of the characters. I found them utterly unrelatable and suicide being a central issue (not a spoiler- it’s on the blurb), I wasn’t emotionally impacted in the slightest. I didn’t blink once at any of the drama that went down, because I just didn’t care.

Part of this issue stemmed from how little I connected with the main character. Part of this was due to him having what I like to call “uncool cool-guy syndrome”. There’s this weird and awfully random phenomenon in fiction of the uncool main character being invited into the cool circle, so that they can get an insight into some “alien” lifestyle, whilst all the while being aloof to it. Ultimately I find characters like this a little hard to relate to, because I just don’t find this setup all that realistic. It also brings up a ton of questions for me- like why is the dork invited in the first place, cos “cool kids” aren’t generally known for their generosity of spirit or inviting randomers to come play? And now that he’s been initiated into this circle, have they not gained insider status and are they just posturing as an outsider? Now since this was most of his character make-up, along with mild depression and an almost magical way with women (in the bedroom and elsewhere) I did not think he was especially well drawn.

And let’s talk about sex (baby…). Everyone in this book was having unsexy sex all the time (or at least that’s what it felt like). There’s always a very specific kind of sex in literary books. You know the sort: mechanical smut, that always seems to say “if you don’t like this you’re a prude” but at the same time “this literature is too high brow to be erotic”. To be utterly crude, it has the same sex appeal as reading about someone using the lavatory. I’ve never understood why this style of sexual writing always finds its way into these books- maybe I’m just not intellectual enough to understand the “deeper meaning” behind all the frickin details of normal bodily functions.

I’ve heard a lot of people have a problem with the ending, but as you can probably tell, I had a problem with the beginning and middle. I just couldn’t see the point to any of it.

On the plus side this book got this song stuck in my head:

But even a Beatles song couldn’t save this book for me. I hope if you read this you have more luck than me:

Rating: 2/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana

So have you read this? Do you plan to? And am I the only one super behind on reviews?! Let me know in the comments!

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39 thoughts on “Isn’t it good, Norwegian Wood? Well no…

  1. booksareallyouneed says:

    Aw no, I was hoping this would be something I would enjoy, however it doesn’t sound like it. I have to admit, the title is what attracted me to want to read this book, I love that song! (As well as pretty much any Beatles song lol) Sad the book didn’t live up to the song.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bookstooge says:

    I’ve stopped reading Murakami. Whatever the last book I read of his was, it dealt with incest and just revolted me.

    As for 23 books to review. Is that “23 books to read AND review” or “I’ve read 23 books and need to review them all”? Either way, best of luck! There is no way I could come back from a deficit like that.

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ughh I don’t blame you- that is an instant no for me- it’s just disgusting and even I have my limits.

      Haha I *wish* it was just 23 books to read and review 😉 But alas- it is 23 books (actually I think it’s more like 25 now…) that I have notes on to review… Haha thanks I’m gonna need it!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Nel says:

    “unsexy sex” 😂😂 I loved your descriptors in that whole paragraph. I’ve never read this author and it almost sounds like I should steer clear. Holy cow on the amount of books you need to review! Don’t drown over there!

    Like

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      haha yes it really didn’t work for me 😉 haha thank you!! Oh well- 7 is totally manageable 😀 haha thank you- I’m gonna need it- I did- but then I added 3 more books to the review pile 😉 I swear I either need to read fewer books, or more mediocre books I have no desire to review 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Anna says:

    Woah, 23 books?!? Best of luck with that. I have never really been able to get into Murakami. Maybe it’s that too much gets lost in translation, but I have never read a Murakami book that I really enjoyed. Sometimes I think maybe it’s too intellectual for me and all of its subtlety goes over my head because he has such a huge cult following, but I have struggled to understand why. If anyone has any recommendations though, I’d be willing to give him another chance. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hahaa I know it’s crazy!! (and it’s upto 25 now :/ ) Yes I am inclined to think that, since I want to be as fair as possible. But it’s good to know I’m not the only one that thinks that (though I’m not inclined to give him as much credit as you do by calling his work intellectual 😉 ) Yes, I really really don’t get it. haha it would have to be someone I really trusted and probably someone that had critiqued his work before, otherwise I’d just give it a miss at this stage- too many books in the world to spend so much time on an author I’m not all that fond of 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Nic says:

    Ahh I like Murakami, but that book was one of his weaker ones. He does feature a ton of protagonists who are nerdy uncool guys that are somehow in a cool circle though. Maybe you don’t need to delve more into his works

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel says:

    23 books? Good luck!! I enjoy Murakami’s magical realism books more. Norwegian wood is not one of my favourites. I could not relate to some characters. For eg: the lady who is the friend of the girl who dies (sorry, cannot remember any of the character names). I could not relate to her at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      ahh thank you- I’m gonna need it!!! Ahh that’s good to know. Yes- I couldn’t relate to them either! (and don’t worry I’ve forgotten all the names by now 😉 ) I just couldn’t connect with her (or any of them) at all!

      Like

  7. MyBookJacket says:

    “it has the same sex appeal as reading about someone using the lavatory” 😂😂😂 oh dear god that got me laughing. I feel the exact same way about the sex in Murakami books. Especially in Colourless Tsukuru. Don’t read that if you don’t want bodily functions in detail. And I have a new copy of this in my shelves that I may just get rid of now. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      hahaha I’m so glad you liked that 😉 hahaha that’s good to know- I don’t feel inspired to read anymore of his work- but especially not if it’s got that kind of sex in it. haha oh dear- well if you do read it I hope you enjoy it more than I did. And whether you do or you don’t like it- I look forward to your review 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • MyBookJacket says:

        Haha. It’s a little high up on the list so I do hope it isn’t as intolerable. (If I’ve read Tsukuru I’ve read it all. I didn’t think it was that bad when I read it but a week or so later….. I felt a little put off thinking about it).

        Like

  8. Donna | Chocolate'n'Waffles says:

    I haven’t read anything Japanese of translated from Japanese for three years because the usual style doesn’t suit me. They can pull off dark stuff but the writing is very special. I’m not planning on reading this one! I have enough sex with Jill’s books also xD

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Ah I can understand that. I must say I’ve not many Japanese books before- except one novella I’ve forgotten the name of that was very dark and interesting- so I definitely see what you’re talking about. hahaha well trust me, Jill’s *much* better at writing sex scenes so you’re not missing out!! 😉 xD

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Joelendil says:

    Have you read any other Murakami? I’ve only read one (Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World) and had many of the same issues you mentioned: stilted writing (possibly a “lost in translation” issue), feeling no connection to any of the characters, obsession with sex (pretty much the only way the main character thinks about women), etc. I thought maybe the one I picked up was a dud, but if most of his writing is like this I don’t see the appeal…maybe I’m just a Philistine.

    Liked by 1 person

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      No I haven’t. ahh I’m glad I’m not the only one that thinks this!! It sounds exactly like this to be honest. Normally I don’t like to put people off… but if you felt that way about his other book, I can’t promise this will be any better. I know it’s highly unlikely I’ll picking up another of his books. Haha then I guess we’ll be Philistines together 😉

      Like

  10. litthis says:

    I actually enjoy Murakami, especially 1Q84, but I can understand where you are coming from. I did have to giggle about the sex commentary in your review followed by a rating of two bananas, which seemed more suitable to rating the sex than the book. 😂😂 I do know that’s your rating system, it just struck me funny with this review.

    Good luck with catching up on reviews!

    Like

  11. Lashaan (Bookidote) says:

    25… freaking books in your back log. You’re set for months of blogging! 😛 This was a fabulous review, by the way. It had me laughing more often than not! “To be utterly crude, it has the same sex appeal as reading about someone using the lavatory.” also killed me–don’t ask me how I’m still typing. Honestly, this book sounds awful, and I can’t even leave room for a little bit of hope in the original text.

    Like

  12. Nicola @ Thoughts on Fantasy says:

    “There’s always a very specific kind of sex in literary books. You know the sort: mechanical smut, that always seems to say “if you don’t like this you’re a prude” but at the same time “this literature is too high brow to be erotic”” – you have described this phenomenon so perfectly!!! I have also often encountered it and never really understood it, but you make a very good point in your description, which I guess is the idea that if it’s ‘sexy’ it will be erotic and somehow not high brow, and that if you shy away from blunt detail you’re being prudish and not gutsy enough. Anyway, very weird, these scenes always make me wrinkle my nose 🙂 Thank you for describing them so eloquently, it made me laugh to read this!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sophie @ Blame Chocolate says:

    Oh, you’re not the only one behind on reviews… Or blog posts… Or commenting… Sigh 😄
    I wasn’t planning on reading this, as it’s depressing as hell. And I prefer my books to be a bit more cheery or at least not focus on something as depressing as suicide.
    Loved reading your review, though! I’m not sure if this a case of lost in translation… It probably is just one of those “you either love it or hate it” kind of book.

    Liked by 1 person

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