Hello everyone, just got the book and will try to catch up today. I read the first section yesterday and needed time to think… Mandi, thanks for another lyrical, beautifully written novel. I was hooked from page 1.
So, interesting that the title is actually front and centre. The only words that I remember without looking up (which I will do later) are: “I once had a girl or should I say she once had me.” Certainly introduces the theme effectively, as we soon find out.
I really liked how effortlessly the author deals with the passage of time. We meet Toru when he is 37, and then learn about his youth in 1969. When he is 19, Toru is sort of aimless. He has left home to attend university, but is not engaged in his studies (unlike his roommate Storm Trooper!) We find out a little about his day-to-day activities, including a part time job as a mover. Now in his thirties, he is a man who is writing a book, who has to write things down to fully comprehend them. (p. 5)
I also liked the time shift that occurs during the months that precede Toru’s 20th birthday. I interpreted his walk in the meadow with Naoko as a visit to her at the institution where she has retreated to deal with her mental illness, as she mentions in her letter to Toru.
As always when reading literature, as opposed to genre fiction, I have my problems with the characters and their behaviour. I mean does anyone really, really meet a person and go for long walks every week for months on end, and not talk? This also comes up in conversation between Toru and Storm Trooper, when his roommate asks for advice on what to talk about with girls. What is the bond then, between Naoko and Toru? Is it their lost friend Kizuki, just that, which holds them together and makes Toru fall in love?
I want to find out what happens between these two to create the crippling surge of emotion that Toru experiences on the plane.
I was struck by how few “Japanese” attributes mark the book so far. Neat in a way that other than the names of people and places we could be reading about characters from anywhere else in the world. I wondered about the firefly though, the caging or bottling up of nature.