"Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life."

I had learned one thing from Kizuki’s death, and I believed I had made it a part of myself in the form of a philosophy: 'Death exists, not as the opposite but as a part of life.’

By living our lives, we nurture death. True as this might be, it was only one of the truths we had to learn. What I learned from Naoko’s death was this: no truth can cure the sadness we feel from losing a loved one. No truth, no sincerity, no strength, no kindness, can cure that sorrow. All we can do is see that sadness through to the end and learn something from it, but what we learn will be no help in facing the next sadness that comes to us without warning. Hearing the waves at night, listening to the sound of the wind, day after day I focused on these thoughts of mine. Knapsack on my back, sand in my hair, I moved farther and farther west, surviving on a diet of whisky, bread and water.”
-Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

By the way, I read this book in the wonderful Harvill edition that, like the Japanese original, comes in two tiny (just over 4"x6") volumes. Even with the original box tossed and the color-coded covers replaced with heavy institutional rubber by the UVa library, there’s something really charming and appropriate to the novel about this design. It gives an illusion of serialization that speaks to the youthful quality of the story, as if this were a manga or young adult lit series. And it cries out to be tucked in a pocket and carried out into a meadow like the one in which the book’s key scene takes place. Most of all, it corresponds with the elegant slightness of the novel itself—the way in which Murakami’s prose (as translated by Jay Rubin) achieves lyric beauty while never pressing for literary grandeur, the tragic seclusion in which events befall his seemingly orphaned characters.

The novel left me wanting more, so much so that I immediately started in on Murakami’s A Wild Sheep Chase. So far I’m enjoying it, but reading it in a clumsy 6"x9" edition, big enough for a hardback bestseller, I realize that what I really wanted was more like Norwegian Wood volume 3.