Saturday, November 10, 2007
"I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me..."
I'm sitting here alone in my room, but not particularly lonely this cold autumn night. In fact, I'm feeling rather amazed as I hear Oscar Wilde, seated across the room from me with legs crossed, saying drolly, "Life imitates art far more than art imitates life." I put down the book I am reading, Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood, and find myself forced into humble agreement. I'm about one-third of the way finished, and acutely aware that I'm looking for any excuse to put this book down when I can because I don't think I can bear for it to end. Toru Watanabe is the main character. He and I are the same age, and we are both writing because it is the only way we can understand the things that have happened to us. Toru's life forever changed when his best friend in high school committed suicide--just as my life did when the Asia I loved blacked out of existence and slipped into a coma it would never wake up from. I actually first set eyes on this book nearly seven years ago. My best friend in Korea, Sung, had given it to me on my birthday. I think you would really like it, he said in the artless way he always spoke. Naturally, I put the thing aside and never got around to it. I don't know why I wandered into a bookstore at Penn Station last Thursday. Or why I should have suddenly remembered after all this time. But there it was. My hand trembled as I took it down from the shelf. I felt as if Sung was trying to tell me something--perhaps that we had been best friends for reasons we would never fully comprehend.