*Note* - You will be able to RSVP for this event the evening of the previous event (RSVPs open 7:00pm on March 10th).
Back by popular demand! "Norwegian Wood" was very popular in our first book vote, so I brought it back to see how it would fare - looks like we were all pretty interested, so here we are again. Find your copy asap!
Please bring questions, thoughts, comments - no formal presentations are necessary, but do expect to engage in some active listening and conversation. As always, dissenting opinions and thoughts are welcome, but I do expect participants to be respectful of each other as they express them.
Here's a short summary of the book:
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
A first US appearance of a novel originally published in 1987, this crisp portrayal of “flaming youth” in the late 1960s proves one of Murakami’s most appealing—if uncharacteristic—books.
Best known to us as the comic surrealist-symbolist author of such rousing postmodernist fare as A Wild Sheep Chase (1989), Murakami is also a highly intelligent romantic who feels the pangs of his protagonist Toru Watanabe’s insistent sexual and intellectual hungers and renders them with unsparing clarity (the matter-of-fact sexual frankness here seems unusual for a Japanese novel, even a 1987 one).Toru’s narrative of his student years, lived out against a backdrop of ongoing “campus riots,” focuses on the lessons he learns from relationships with several highly individual characters, two of them women he simultaneously loves (or thinks he loves). Mercurial Naoko, who clearly perceives the seeds of her own encroaching madness (“It’s like I’m split in two and playing tag with myself”), continues to tug away at Toru’s emotions even after she enters a sanatorium. Meanwhile, coy fellow student Midori tries to dispel shadows cast by her parents’ painful deaths by fantasizing and simulating—though never actually experiencing—sex with him. Other perspectives on Toru’s hard-won assumption of maturity are offered by older student Nagasawa (“a secret reader of classic novels,” and a compulsive seducer); Naoko’s roommate Reiko, a music teacher (and self-styled interpreter of such Beatles’ songs as the one that provides Murakami’s evocative title) who’s perhaps also her lesbian lover; and the specter of Toru’s boyhood friend Kizuki, a teenaged suicide. There’s a lot of talk about books (particularly Fitzgerald’s and Hesse’s) and other cultural topics, in a blithely discursive and meditative story that’s nevertheless firmly anchored to the here and now by the vibrant immediacy of its closely observed characters and their quite credibly conflicted psyches and libidos. A contemporary equivalent of This Side of Paradise or Vile Bodies, and another solid building-block in one of contemporary fiction’s most energetic and impressive bodies of work.
Now let's get to readin'!
Suggested Donation: $2/attendee
As stated in my profile, I'm a broke-ass grad student, and Meetup groups cost money to run (surprise!), so... if you can contribute a buck or two, please do! This increases the likelihood that I can continue this group despite my rotten budget. If you can't, don't sweat it - it wouldn't really be fair to exclude other broke-asses. If there are extra funds from donations over the year (i.e., if the amount collected exceeds the cost of the Meetup, which is $144/year), then I will use the remaining funds for something fun for the group, like drinks/snacks for a holiday get together at the year's end.
A little note on RSVPs:
If you have to cancel (life happens sometimes), please do so at least 24 hours in advance. That way space can be freed up for others who may wish to attend, but for whom there wasn't enough room. RSVPs cannot be changed after 9:00am on the day of the event, so be sure to change your RSVP well in advance of this! Also, if you are on the waiting list and other's change their RSVP to "no", you will be bumped up on the list, so make sure to check your status the day of the event. If you RSVP "yes" and don't show up 3 times (yes, I will be counting!), you will be excluded from future attendance. This is only fair for others who want to attend the meetings.