College Preparatory School for Girls Grades 3-12

Sally Alexander's Book Club

Return home to Holton!

Join Sally Colclough Alexander '51 and fellow alumnae for wine, cheese, and conversation!

Thursday, November 2

7:00 p.m.


For this meeting, we will be reading Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

Kindly RSVP to Advancement Associate for Special Events Courtney Bowers, 301-767-2388


A Message from Sally:


I apologize for not getting this to you sooner; as a full-time caregiver, very little of my time is my own.

Some of you may remember my saying that if an image or motif wants to point beyond itself to greater meaning, it must first point insistently to itself. I think that Norwegian Wood is filled with images, motifs, situations that do just that. Certainly the explicit, rather clinical treatment of sexuality does so. Remember the year - 1969 - in which most of the story takes place, and the ages of the protagonists.

The journey motif is powerful. Toru's visit to Naoke in the sanatorium depends upon it, signaled as he starts up the trail after leaving Kyoto - the "outside world" (p. 91 in my book) behind. We enter a mythic world when a journey begins. The song "Norwegian Wood" makes Naoke feel like Snow White alone in the forest, the lack of sex between her and Kizuki suggest the prohibition of incest between these Edenic children.

Her nighttime visits to Toru suggest to me the mythic succubus.

When Toru sees the cottages where the patients live, he thinks they look like a Disney animation of a Much painting which became for me a metaphor for much of the book. Certainly it fits Reiko as the Journey's wise old woman.

I am eager to hear your thoughts on the Ami Hotel section.

I admire one narrative technique particularly. We meet characters, perhaps judge them harshly, then find out much later, facts about them that make us re-evaluate. I think that is the way life works. We know of Naoke's psychological and emotional problems for a long time before we learn of her sister. I think the same is true of Midori.

Murakami, I think, manipulates Toru's voice so well that it took my second reading for me to focus on his entire journey, to look at him and not just through his eyes. The ending became more real, and more right, for me the second time.

I look forward to seeing you all so much, and to a good discussion of a book by one of the important writers of now.


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