Thursday, June 24, 2010

extras & quotes from "Norwegian Wood" by Murakami

*
It takes time, though, for Naoko's face to appear. And as the years have passed, the time has grown longer. The sad truth is that what I could recall in 5 seconds all too soon needed 10, then 30, then a full minute - like shadows lengthening at dusk. Someday, I suppose, the shadows will be swallowed up in darkness. There is no way around it: my memory is growing ever more distant from the spot where Naoko used to stand -where my old self used to stand. And nothing but scenery, that view of the meadow in October, returns again and again to me like a symbolic scene in a film. Each time it appears, it delivers a kick to some part of my mind. Wake up, it says. I’m still here. Wake up and think about it. Think about why I’m still here. The kicking never hurts me. There's no pain at all. Just a hollow sound that echoes with each kick. And even that is bound to fade one day. At Hamburg airport, though, the kicks were longer and harder than usual. Which is why I am writing this book. To think. To understand. It just happens to be the way I’m made. I have to write things down to feel I fully comprehend them.

*
Relax, let down your guard. You're all tensed up so you always expect the worst. Relax your body, and the rest of you will lighten up."
"How can you say that?" she asked in a voice drained of feeling.
Naoko's voice alerted me to the possibility that I had said something I shouldn't have.
"Tell me how you could say such a thing," she said, staring at the ground beneath her feet. "You're not telling me anything I don't know already. 'Relax your body, and the rest of you will lighten up.' What's the point of saying that to me? If I relaxed my body now, I'd fall apart. I've always lived like this, and it's the only way I know how to go on living. If I relaxed for a second, I'd never find my way back. I'd go to pieces, and the pieces would be blown away. Why can't you see that? How can you talk about watching over me if you can't see that?"

*
“I want you always to remember me. Will you remember that I existed, and that I stood next to you here like this?’

*
Now, though, I realize that all I can place in the imperfect vessel of writing are imperfect memories and imperfect thoughts. The more the memories of Naoko inside me fade, the more deeply I am able to understand her. I know, too, why she asked me not to forget her. Naoko herself knew, of course. She knew that my memories of her would fade. Which is precisely why she begged me never to forget her, to remember that she had existed.

*
“…When I graduate, I'm going to work for the Geographical Survey Institute and make m-m-maps."
I was impressed by the variety of dreams and goals that life could offer. This was one of the very first new impressions I received when I came to Tokyo for the first time.

*
Almost a year had gone by since I had last seen Naoko, and in that time she had lost so much weight as to look like a different person. The plump cheeks that had been a special feature of hers were all but gone, and her neck had become delicate and slender. Not that she was bony now or unhealthy-looking: there was something natural and serene about the way she had slimmed down, as if she had been hiding in some long, narrow space until she herself had become long and narrow. And a lot prettier than I remembered. I wanted to tell her that, but couldn't find a good way to put it.

*
The soft hair on her arms shone a lovely golden colour in the lights of the shop.

Elbows on the table, she stared at the calendar on the wall, almost as though she were hoping to find the proper expression there. Failing, she sighed and closed her eyes and played with her hairslide. [// Franny]
In addition, he had a rare talent for finding the interesting parts of someone's generally uninteresting comments so that, while speaking to him, you felt you were an exceptionally interesting person with an exceptionally interesting life.

*
Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.
It's a cliché translated into words, but at the time I felt it not as words but as that knot of air inside me. Death exists - in a paperweight, in four red and white balls on a pool table - and we go on living and breathing it into our lungs like fine dust.

*
Then came autumn, and the dormitory grounds were buried in zelkova leaves. The fragrance of a new season arrived when I put on my first pullover.

*
Making maps was the one small dream of his one small life. Who had the right to make fun of him for that?

*
She, at least, would be able to understand what I was feeling with some degree of precision, I thought. But I could never find the words to express myself. Strange, I seemed to have caught her word-searching sickness.

*
I read a lot, but not a lot of different books: I like to read my favourites again and again. Back then it was Truman Capote, John Updike, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, but I didn't see anyone else in my lectures or the dorm reading writers like that. They liked Kazumi Takahashi, Kenzaburo Oe, Yukio Mishima, or contemporary French novelists, which was another reason I didn't have much to say to anybody but kept to myself and my books. With my eyes closed, I would touch a familiar book and draw its fragrance deep inside me. This was enough to make me happy.

*
He sat down next to me and asked what I was reading. When I told him, he asked if I was enjoying it. "This is my third time," I said, "and every time I find something new that I like even more than the last."
"This man says he has read The Great Gatsby three times," he said as if to himself. "Well, any friend of Gatsby is a friend of mine."
And so we became friends.

He was a far more voracious reader than me, but he made it a rule never to touch a book by any author who had not been dead at least 30 years. "That's the only kind of book I can trust," he said.
"It's not that I don't believe in contemporary literature," he added, "but I don't want to waste valuable time reading any book that has not had the baptism of time. Life is too short."

"If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking."

*
Naoko bent forwards on all fours on the floor and, pressing her palms to the mat, began to cry with the force of a person vomiting.

*
I continued to spend my Saturday nights sitting in the hall. There was no hope of a phone call, but I didn't know what else to do with the time. I would switch on a baseball game and pretend to watch it as I cut the empty space between me and the television set in two, then cut each half in two again, over and over, until I had fashioned a space small enough to hold in my hand.

*
Watanabe: I took my bottled firefly to the roof. No one else was up there. A white vest hung on a clothesline that someone had forgotten to take in, waving in the evening breeze like the discarded shell of some huge insect.

*
Watanabe: Hey, Kizuki, I thought, you're not missing a damn thing. This world is a piece of shit. The arseholes are getting good marks and helping to create a society in their own disgusting image.

scanned and spellchecked by the blog author, as per edition

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