I’ve always felt different, like I was born in the wrong time period, or maybe even on the wrong planet. Have you ever felt that way? Like you just don’t “fit” anywhere or with anyone. You’d likely never realize this if you spent any amount of time with me, but it’s true. Continue reading ““Don’t” Fit In.”
Hey there, lovelies! I have a confession. I….am a closet fanfiction reader. Well, sorta. Only a few of my friends know that I read fanfiction. Actually, very few of them even know what fanfiction is.
For too long now, there has been a weird taboo around the concept of fanfiction. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, fanfiction is basically exactly what it sounds like: fiction written by fans based on popular works, including books, movies, television shows, or any other form of media. There are plenty of places people go to for write and read content on the web, including the Internet staple Fanfiction.net , Tumblr, LiveJournal, and Archive of Our Own (basically a third parent to me growing up). Continue reading “7 Reasons You Should Read Fanfiction.”
Guys! I finally found him. I have dreamed about this all my life. And finally finally discovering him felt absolutely surreal. Zeebee’s mind was totally blown, I tell you! I finally (finally!) found…………my favorite author!
Hey…..You were all fooled there for a second, weren’t’cha?? (Although the title did say review…) I recently picked up a book by Haruki Murakami at a nearby book fair. Since one of my reader friends waxes poetic about him, so I thought well, why not? And thus, I will be forever be thankful to UJ for her great advice. It was the book, Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Go read it, guys!
Here are just a few reasons why Haruki Murakami is so great:
1. Natsukashii – master of nostalgia
Japanese writers are masters of nostalgia. I don’t know why or how this originated but we can see that nostalgia is a core part of Japanese culture. One of the most common Japanese words, one that you will hear every day in Japan, is Natsukashii or 懐かしい and it means (loosely translated) nostalgic.
Hear a song on the radio that reminds you of your childhood? Natsukashii.
Taste a brand of sake that reminds you of your long-lost father? Natsukashii.
Read a great book that stirs up something intangible inside you? Natsukashii.
While Japanese writers are masters of this emotion, Murakami reigns supreme as one of the best. I can only imagine how stressful writing Norwegian Wood must have been, having to tug on his own heart strings every day for months on end, because every page is heavy with the feeling of love and loss.
Every single page of Norwegian Wood demonstrates Murakami’s adeptness at summoning nostalgia. The scenes feel much more real because they are given room to develop on its own. This space allows natsukashii, and intense and painful longing, to develop.
2. Juxtaposition – a tapestry more beautiful than life
I say tapestry because novels resemble tapestries more than an actual snapshot of life. Norwegian Wood lends itself well to having slices from different times fixed side-by-side because of the nature of the narrative itself: an older man looking back on his past.
There’s also the fact that many times in this book, there have been two successive scenes that are basically polar opposites and are very jarring and unusual being put close together. One is about death, the other about life. One about love and loss, the other about love and gain. One is massive, the other is minuscule. Minutiae side-by-side with a life-altering event.
3. Furnishing gaps with jewels
Murakami’s writing style in Norwegian Wood is very sparse, minimalist, and heavily reliant on the reader filling in their own meaning, reading, and picture of the scenes and characters. Nothing is overwrought. Everything is understated. So much so that many readers could easily glide over the pages and miss the meaning.
These gaps are tremendous for creating the kind of narrative that slowly slips under your skin and into your soul, rather than one that batters at the door and is refused entry. It’s like a smack addiction. You don’t know you’re hooked until you are too deep to doing anything about it.
These gaps are also great because every now and then he introduces a couple of concrete details that glimmer like jewels in the narrative. They stand out and are all the more poignant because these details have clearly being chosen specifically to stand out. They have broken free from the mire of subtlety and understatement and they pierce you to the core.
One such moment in which Murakami introduces rare concrete details is after Kizuki’s suicide, when Toru goes to university for the first time. We’ve just been told that Kizuki fed a gas pipe into his N-360 car and taped the window shut. After that, the scene is swept over, as though the thought is too difficult to bear. But some details escape free. Details that make chills run over your arms. Details like this:
“There was only one thing for me to do when I started my new life in the dorm: stop taking everything so seriously; establish a proper distance between myself and everything else. Forget about green baize pool tables and red N-360s and white flowers on school desks; about smoke rising from tall crematorium chimneys, and chunky paperweights in police interrogation rooms. “
We see the pool tables as vividly as Toru. We see the N-360 as vividly too. But we already knew these details and their significance. Then, completing the rule-of-three, Murakami offers another image, that of the white flowers on school desks. We are not told how the school handled the tragedy of Kizuki’s death. But we don’t need to be told. That image speaks volumes. Then we have more images with the smoke from the crematorium chimney and the paperweights in police interrogation rooms. Again, we are not told anything about these instances but we see a very clear progression with very little being said. We feel what the narrator wishes he could forget. And we feel it intimately.
4. Use of humour in tragedy
Something that always fascinated me about studying Shakespeare’s plays was that the tragedies were funnier than the comedies and the comedies were more tragic than the tragedies (right up until the final act that is). We actually see this in all great literature. Tragedies that are filled with doom and gloom from start to finish end up feeling farcical. We reject the tragic experience. It means nothing to us. Likewise, comedies need to have a lot of shit going wrong. In fact, a lot of sitcoms would work well as tragedies if it weren’t for their inane laughter tracks.
Murakami uses humour extremely well. He uses it to make the tragic more tragic and the poignant more poignant. Humour is also a very effective fastening rod for combining many of a work’s themes together. Take this one scene of dialogue for example between Toru and Midori that effectively combines comedy, tragedy, love, sex, poignant juxtaposition, nostalgia, and gaps for meaning to arise:
““Tell me, Watanabe,” Midori said, looking up at the dorm buildings, “do all the guys in here wank – rub-a-dub-dub?”
“Probably,” I said.
“Do guys think about girls when they do that?”
“I suppose so. I kind of doubt that anyone thinks about the stock market or verb conjugations or the Suez Canal when they wank. Nope, I’m pretty sure just about everybody thinks about girls.”
“The Suez Canal?”
“So I suppose they think about particular girls, right?”
“Shouldn’t you be asking your boyfriend about that?” I said. “Why should I have to explain stuff like this to you on a Sunday morning?”
“I was just curious,” she said. “Besides, he’d get angry if I asked him about stuff like that. He’d say girls aren’t supposed to ask all those questions.”
“A perfectly normal point of view, I’d say.”
Murakami has many such scenes like this to break up some of the angst and heartache that riddles the book. It’s interesting to note that he compartmentalises his comedic and tragic aspects. For example, when he wants to make you laugh, he’ll bring out Midori or he’ll let Toru tell an anecdote about his geeky roommate, dubbed Storm Trooper. This is a great technique to learn how to write humour effectively: anchor comedic moments to specific characters and symbols.
5. Sensuality – erotica writers take note!
I’m not the only one that finds most of the erotica books cringe-inducing. Just scroll through the reviews of some of the top sellers (most of which will disappear into oblivion within a fortnight) and you’ll see a common round of complaints: too much detail, too wooden characters, not enough build-up, and not enough believability.
Well, excuse my language but writing good sex is not like following a DIY instruction panel. Insert rod A into fixture B and screw until you hear a moist popping sound = GROSS.
Erotica readers do not just want a play-by-play of every minute detail. If they wanted that, they could find tons of that shit on the internet (seriously, open up a tab right now… I’ll wait) rather than fork over hard-earned money on a book. When it comes to writing effective erotica….What’s unsaid is more important than what is said. It’s the same in horror where you don’t see the bad guy until the end. Let the reader’s imagination take over. Everyone’s fantasy is different.
You need characters that have real emotions. It can be love. It can be hate. It can be jealousy, possessiveness, fear, boredom, disgust. But it can’t just be sex.
You need to have a build-up that is believable. Seriously, female protagonists shouldn’t go from straight-laced Christian girls to nymphomaniacs overnight. That’s a dirty deus ex-machina that serves only to heap up a big serving of forgettable and creepy description.
But Murakami’s Norwegian Wood totally handles these difficult themes of sensuality, love, and sex well. Murakami doesn’t ruin those by just throwing them down on the page without paying careful attention to atmosphere and character first. He does this by focusing on character. He focuses on real issues that real people deal with every day. Then when the scene comes, he introduces it and steps back.
7. Musical refrains
Study how Murakami consciously uses music as a refrain throughout Norwegian Wood. He continuously comes back to The Beatles, among many other musicians evocative of the time period, and he does this consciously in order to create a unity, a harmony, among the disparate memories told by the backwards-looking narrator, whilst also increasing the sense of nostalgia and longing.
Music, particularly The Beatles, stands as an important motif throughout the book with characters continuously paying to hear one another play ‘Norwegian Wood’, as though they’re also trying to return to a past or lose themselves in a symbol of hope.
8. Keeps the reader guessing
Throughout the entire book, the reader is left guessing as to which character Toru will eventually end up with: Naoko or Midori?
Murakami crafts this guessing game so expertly because, once again in the vein of ensuring that nothing is overwrought, it doesn’t even seem like a guessing game. It doesn’t even seem relevant to the story. This feels more like a side thought that we, the reader, are simply preoccupying ourselves with as we fly over the memories of Toru’s past.
It looks equally impossible that Toru will end up with either of these women. And for wildly different reasons. And yet he does.
Each reader will have a character that they are rooting for. The whole way through the book, I was rooting for Midori to be the one that Toru ends up with. It struck me about halfway through the book that a story without a character or cause to root for is not much of a story at all. And Murakami instils this emotion perfectly.
It is important to realise that Norwegian Wood was Murakami’s experimental novel. Even though it is the one that seems the most “normal” out of his oeuvre, this was the challenge Murakami issued himself. He wanted to write a straight novel and a bestseller just to prove to everyone else that he could. And did. The book is a worldwide bestseller. And the reason that although its the only book by him I have read, I have chosen Murakami as my favorite author.
Those are just a few reasons why Haruki Murakami is so great. Have you all heard of him? If yes, then what are your opinions? Which one of his books is your favorite? Comment down below and I would love to get some feedback about this!
Your friendly neighborhood bookworm,
P.S. Don’t forget to press that Like button if you wish to see more such content! I dont often do long reviews but this one made me go on and on…..lol
Best friends make the good times better and the hard times easier.
Friends are the family that we choose ourselves.
Good friends are like stars, you don’t always see them but you know they are there.
True friendship isn’t being inseparable. It is being separated and nothing changes.
There are probably more than a million other quotes about friends and friendship. Instagram and Twitter feeds are literally over-flooded with pics of people posting ‘#Friends For Life!’. It gets annoying after a while, don’t you think? I mean, I understand you are friends, but no need to shove it into everyone’s face. Or is it just me? Continue reading “#Friends For Life???”
Soooo….a while back, I had a discussion with a Sherlock fan about Jim Moriarty. Aaannnd…..I was surprised to find that apparently more than half the fandom dislike James.
At least That‘s the view of the people around me. And as usual, I provide the contradiction. I love him. He’s literally my favorite character in Sherlock. What’s there to hate? So I’m going to list the things I love about James Moriarty. And hopefully, you’ll understand his awesomeness.
1. He is Toootally crazy.
And I love it. I think that this is one of the aspects that makes him such an interesting character. Disorders include Narcissistic personality disorder, sadistic personality disorder, passive-aggressive personality disorder, possible antisocial personality disorder or in a word, a psychopath. Let’s be honest, it’d be boring if Sherlock’s arch-nemesis was ‘ordinary’, right?
2. He is incredibly intelligent.
James Moriarty didn’t just trick Sherlock with his disguise in ‘The Great Game’, he also tricked him and even Mycroft Holmes (who is even smarter than Sherlock!) that there’d be a key code in ‘The Reichenbach Fall’. And also to mention is that he faked his death and Sherlock didn’t notice. He knew exactly how Sherlock would react if he ‘killed himself’.
3. He is unpredictable.
You never know if he’ll flirt with you or start screaming mid-sentence and this just makes it so much more exciting. Plus, just remember how he attempted to steal the crown jewels.
4. He is sooooo changeable!
This is literally my favorite line of his! (OK…I say that for every line…but let’s ignore that) Let’s just talk about ‘The Great Game’.
We wouldn’t have thought it was the guy from the morgue, ‘Jim from IT’, because he seemed so innocent , just like ‘Rich Brook’ in the ‘Reichenbachfall’. As he is a psychopath which means he can’t feel like ordinary people feel he can perfectly act as if he would.
5. He is the perfect villain.
He loves fairy tales, and pretty grim ones too.
Let’s just mention that he wore a fox tie pin at court. There’s a Grimm fairy tale about a fox who fakes his own death.
6. Andrew Scott.
He is such a brilliant actor. I really love how he portrays James in the ‘modern’ Sherlock Holmes story. God, that actor is sooo talented. Plus, can we talk about how adorable and cute Andrew is? And I love that he started dancing to the music in ‘the Reichenbachfall’ (it wasn’t in the script).
7. His Eyes…
They can be so beautiful and soft sometimes but when he suddenly screams they just immediately frighten you. Like…seriously…go search Moriarty on Google images and see the eyes in each picture.
8. His riddles.
The reason why I was so excited for Moriarty when I first watched Sherlock is because he gets mentioned a lot in the first episodes but isn’t shown. Then in the great game, there’s the row of riddles Sherlock has to solve and gets close to Moriarty after every riddle. And the biggest riddle there was was the final problem where both of them faked their death.
Okay guys! I could list a lot of other things I love about him but I hope people who don’t like him can now partly comprehend why there is so much sherlockians who like him and think he is an interesting character.
Now, in my opinion the key to creating a memorable villain is, as with all good characters, a sense of who they are. And like Moriarty says “Because we’re not so different, you and I. Because we both get bored, we both spend all our lives searching and searching for distractions…only you’re boring. You prance around London, solving other people’s problems, and you know it could have been different, oh, it could have been very different…when you look at me, Sherlock, you don’t see a criminal or a monster. You see the man that you could have become. You see yourself.” Yep.He knows!
Jim Moriarty is psychologically similar to Sherlock in many ways. They share similar personality type , and a lot of the same positive and negative traits. However, the difference between the two is that Sherlock copes with his boredom in ways that benefit others, whereas Jim Moriarty copes with his boredom in ways that are destructive to not only others, but himself.
Lastly, I know, I know. People(hi mom) say that he’s just a fictional character. Don’t obsess over him. Ordinary people don’t do that. So…..there’s only one answer to that.
Maybe psychopaths are just my type.<winks>