Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore starts real enough, with a 15 year old boy running away from home, but it soon acquires a dream-like quality. People talk to cats, meet Jonnie Walker or fall in love with the ghost of a girl that suddenly appears in their bedroom.

The further you read, the clearer it becomes that everything is part of one big puzzle. You shouldn't expect a final solution, though, Murakami's books never work like that. Some questions are answered, others are not - or maybe they are? Time to re-read the book.

I have a weakness for authors who can write about music in a way that makes you want to listen to the piece that's described right now and Murakami is one of those authors. Music plays a big part in Kafka on the Shore and I can only recommend listening to the music that's mentioned. I wish I could listen to the fictional song that plays such a big part in the story.

A privately owned library is an important location and I wish I could go there as well. It's vividly described and the main character even gets to live there for a while. As a child, I've always wanted to be locked into a library for a night. Let's be honest, I still want to - I actually have a list of libraries that I want to be all alone in to explore them at peace. So the library in this book had a huge appeal for me.

The forest one of the characters explores and the small town he discovers reminded me very much of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, as did the references to loosing one's shadow (or having a weak shadow). There are more references to books by Murakami, to Picnic at Hanging Rock, to Kafka's stories and other books. All that gave me the feeling of being familiar with the world I was exploring, only to come across other things that made it look completely alien once again. It's a slightly disturbing effect, but I like it, it makes me rethink my opinion of what I'm reading constantly.

There was one thing that bothered me: some phrases sounded awkward and I'm willing to bet that they were translated literally from English, not Japanese, or maybe they were English in the original. Cool as a cucumber for example was translated literally and that's not something Germans say and I doubt it's a proverb in Japan. It's a perfect example of why I only read translations when I have to.

23rd book for the Library Challenge

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