Some more reading done, so new books that I have an opinion about. Good books, I might add.
Haruki Murakami – Norwegian Wood
Though probably the most well known book of Murakami, this novel is an actual ‘return’ to the popular style in his home country according to the added information in the book. It’s a dreary love story with some strange triangular relationships occuring. That seems to be the returning element in the story of Toru Watanabe, who is recollecting his past in the book. At a young age, his best friend Kizuki killed himself. A while after that he reconnected with the girlfriend of his best friend, who he took walks with. He then sleeps with her in a strange, emotion filled night, after which she runs away and signs into a sanatorium.
Watanabe falls into despair, hanging out with his friend Nagasawa, who strings him along in a quest to bed as many girls as possible. Nagasawa also has a girlfriend, which makes another triangle. Then Watanabe visits Naoko in the sanatorium and has a great time with her and her room mate Reiko. He also strikes up a friendship with live loving Midori, a girl from his drama classes. it all falls apart when Naoko kills herself as well. The interactions are complex and are presented in an order that might at times be confusing. It’s the story of a young guy who tries to do what is right, but also tries to live a life that is fullfilling. This struggle seems to be at the core of the book. The title is derived from the Beatles song, which is recurring element in the book.
Haruki Murakami – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
This book follows the trials and tribulations of Tsukuru Tazaki. A peculiar person, who considers himself to be empty, like an unwritten sheet of paper. He only knows he really likes trainstations and like trainstations considers himself to have been the connecting factor in a colorfull group of friends in high school, who were a harmonious unit. One day he was cast out and almost driven to suicide, he changed completely in the way he looked and after half a year finally regained control of his life.
Now, years later, his girlfriend reminds him of the past and asks what happened that so shook him and limited him in connecting with others. He decides to revisit his old friends and find out what happened and find himself again. The story is laced with references to the past and future, there’s an element of mystery and dreams, like is common in the books of Murakami and we follow a person who is not in touch with himself, but seems to slowly gain a hold of the essence of his being. The musical piece ‘Years of Pilgrimage’ by Liszt is a recurring theme in the novel. It’s a powerful book that once more offers the reader a path to fulfillment and a coming of age story. In the typical Murakami fashion though.
Gavin Baddeley & Paul Woods – God’s Assassins: The Medieval Roots of Terrorism
I’ve read a book by Baddeley in the past, which dealt with the role the Devil has been playing in Rock’n’roll through the last couple of decades, back to it’s very start. Baddeley even harks back to bygone ages in that book, which is something he does in this book as well. Together with Woods, the writer traces an analogy of sorts throughout the ages with a critical view on terrorism and religion and it’s roots in the Assassin cult in the middle-east. A topic surrounded mostly with myth, magic and mystery. From the ‘Old Man Of The Mountain’, which must refer to either Rashid ad-Din Sina or Hassan Sabbah, the original leader of the cult, all the way to the Kennedy assasination and modern Islam terrorism and the books of William Burroughs.
This is not one of those typical self-explanatory obscurantist views on a past that is partly imagined, this is a critical reading of both facts and perception of the historical phenomenon that involves terrorism in the form the assassins preached. It’s arguably easy to draw a direct link between current day Islamic State/Al Quaida movements and their historical counterpart, but that is not what the authors do. They remain critical and rather trace this sort of terrorism to general means of indoctrination, threat and subterfuge as practised by superpowers. The book leaves the reader with questions and I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing.
Oswalt Patton – Zombie Spaceship Wasteland
Patton is a comedian and also an avid writer of books with a love for scifi and geekiness. In this book he writes down how his life unfolded and how his geekiness played a part in shaping and reforming his perceptions of his surroundings, dividing people into Zombies, Spaceships and Wasteland wanderers. It’s a good read full of fun but also with some lessons in life and what to do to get ahead.
There are curious elements of sudden empathy with other wanderers, disgust and lost cases along the path and a whole lot of self loathing and mockery happening in this book. Also song lyrics from REM come into play, which is cool I guess and read by Michael Stipe. Oswalt Patton is a hilarious dude, but also a person you might recognize if you’ve struggled with your inner and outer world and finding a place of peace for yourself and acceptance.