Thursday, 5 July 2012

Growth & Decay

Murakami's Norwegian Wood is a delicate reminiscence of the life and loves of a young man, Toro, in late Sixties Tokyo and, despite not being autobiographical, is devoid of the author's trademark peculiarity. While at University after Toro's friend commits suicide a tentative romance blossoms with his girlfriend Naoko but events and their fledgling adulthood causes much confusion. As you'd expect from Murakami it's beautifully written but the two main characters are so fragile and melancholic I struggled to relate to them and without the usual fantastical elements the whole thing seemed a little insubstantial. It seems harsh to criticise such a wonderfully written novel and it is an achingly poignant vista of the pressures of maturation but I think I prefer Murakami's wilder side.

No Blade of Grass is a quirky slice of British post apocalyptic cinema and I was lucky enough to be lent a copy of the original novel The Death of Grass by a friend. Written in 1956 there's a grass chomping virus spreading across the globe and gaggle of suburbanites take the initiative and head for the hills, just not quick enough to avoid the expected social disintegration; roaming rapey gangs, looters and lunatics. It's a nicely drawn examination of middle class sensibility and it's weak points as the journey takes it's psychological as well as physical toll and although the plot seems hackneyed it's worth keeping in mind it's over 50 years old. John Christopher went on to write scifi mainly for adolescents, most memorably The Tripods, but I might dig around and see if I can find something as bleak and kitchen sink as this.

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