Book Fridays: South of the Border, West of the Sun

South of the Border, West of the Sun by Haruki Murakami felt very much like a continuation of Norwegian Wood when I first began the book (but it’s not!). Norwegian Wood was my first Murakami book and I enjoyed it so much I decided to read more by this author. South of the Border, West of the Sun is a haunting read about a mid-life crisis. Hajime, a 37 year old man, is stuck in the past. Unable to let go of the love he feels for his friend, Shimamoto, whom he has not seen since they were 12 years old, he embarks on a journey that almost costs him everything.

The idea that our memories idealize our past relationships hits close to home for me. Not in a romantic sense, but I often think so fondly of friends that I haven’t really known since high school. All that ties me to them are the memories, and the occasional texts, but is there really a relationship there? Murakami explores this to a greater and more relevant extent. He is married with two children and runs two successful bars. His life, on the outside, seems idyllic but he’s lost in an internal turmoil that has him willing to throw it all away to give a future with Shimamoto a chance.

Shimamoto is mysterious and sometimes a little off kilter. She reveals very little about herself and I got the sense that Hajime was as confused about her as the reader. Hajime ultimately gives in and sleeps with Shimamoto once, but even though he cheated on his wife the sex manages to not feel dirty. Murakami manages to treat sex with a sort of purity and innocence.

In the end Hajime knows that he has to do and it doesn’t feel like a compromise. Not even a little.

For anybody that’s interested, all books that I review on my blog are either purchased by me (with my husband’s money :p) or borrowed from the library. I do not write sponsored posts or receive any form of compensation for anything that I write. I write this blog for fun. If this ever changes I will clearly say so at the TOP of my posts. 

Book Fridays- Norwegian Wood

Haruki Murakami has been an author I’ve wanted to read for a while. I have a couple of his books on my TBR list. When a friend of mine told me she was reading Norwegian Wood I decided to read it with her. I had not heard of this book before but I was excited to finally experience some Murikami. I borrowed the e-book from my library and got started right away. But not before skimming over some reviews over on Goodreads. A lot of readers seem to dislike this book, which if I am correct is the book that actually launched his career. Quite a few reviewers were of the opinion that this was his weakest work.

What I found was that I absolutely loved this book. The characters were very compelling though at times unlikeable. The story is a Bildungsroman through and through. The story follows Toru Watanabe as he figures out his various relationships with men and women. On the romantic side we have Naoko who Toru has known since high school. They share a common tragedy and this both brings them together and tears them apart. Then we have Midori, a spunky girl who is on the opposite side of the spectrum as Naoko. Toru’s relationship with these two women is muddled.

Then we have Toru’s roommate, Storm Trooper. This character disappears fairly early on but he does have a lasting impact on Toru. His only friend is a law student that’s two years older than him. They bond over liking the same book. Nagasawa is a character that reflects everything that Toru is not. His morality is at times sickening and one cannot but feel sorry for the many women he beds not least his girlfriend Hatsumi.

Not having read any other works by Murakami it is impossible for me to compare how this measures up to his other works but I am definitely going to read more by this author.