Part Two: Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
In the previous post I set out to select three books I happened to be reading at the time I started to work on A Missing MC.
In this, the second instalment, I discuss a literary classic. Norwegian Wood remains a global phenomenon but first it gripped an entire nation. It became Japan’s novel, because it said so much about the country’s psyche.
Two decades and a captivated worldwide audience later, it was cool to have Norwegian Wood on your bookshelf, and I helped myself to my flatmate’s copy…
I was already developing the idea of my main character going to see old friends one by one, but this book encouraged me to try and bring out a key characteristic in Chris Ready. Toru, the main character in Norwegian Wood is among other things a great listener who people can confide in, and I thought that would help my often down-in-the-dumps protagonist gain more sympathy with the reader.
As the DJ, Ready is a natural focal point for his group of friends, however uncomfortable he is in the role compared to his more charismatic sidekick MC Strait. So when Ready starts his journey and goes to look in on these friends in the wake of Strait’s kidnapping abroad, these characters seem happy to share their fears, about Strait and their own lives, with Ready. I can put the task of making an awkward Ready adapt well to the role of listener down to Toru.
One of my bigger decisions to make was whether to write in the first or third person. Norwegian Wood seemed to settle the argument; the reflections remained close to the story. This is a novel about one person’s almost spiritual journey, and I suppose my book was too. I concluded the reader would rather hear from the person going through it rather than a narrator.