As I promised at the beginning of the year, I am starting an online reading diary, where to present my thoughts on the last books I’ve read. A week ago I finished Haruki Murakami‘s novel Kafka on the Shore and I should admit I have mixed feelings about it.
It started as a gripping story with quite a distinctive writing style and characters but then It became so abstract that I lost the whole point of the narrative. It was different from what I have read before which made it exciting for me, but the whole time I was just waiting for that ‘Aha! eureka moment’ when all the strageness makes sense and the tiny bits come together in one big picture. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen, at least for me. Yes, some parts of the plot unfolded and connected but at the end, when I closed the book, I kept asking myself what was the author’s message, what was the idea that he wanted to pass around. I am not one of those readers that interact with the book only for the pleasure of it and for the solely purpose of the ‘reading action’ itself. In other words, one night stands with novels are not my thing. It is the author’s overall message that adds the real value for me and I just did not grasp it. I do not say it is the novelist’s fault, maybe it is me and I just don’t have the right senses for his writing. Maybe we are not compatible, or maybe I should just give a chance to another one of his works and see what happens.
Anyway, just because I did not understand the connecting idea of the story, this does not mean that there weren’t any meaningful thoughts and separate messages that I caught. Here are some that I consider pretty significant:
“Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will even be worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.”
“Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.”
“That’s why I like listening to Schubert while I’m driving. Like I said, it’s because all his performances are imperfect. A dense, artistic kind of imperfection stimulates your consciousness, keeps you alert. If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I’m driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of – that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally I find that encouraging.”
A major aspect of Murakami’s style that is worth mentioning are his characters. I do not want to spoiler the book too much, so I would just say that they are pretty strange and some people could even find them or their actions a bit disturbing. Some of them are true representatives of the modern society, some of them are just honestly messed up in the head. Actually all of them are somehow damaged but I feel like that is Murakami’s aim. I suggest that he is just trying to imply tolerance and understanding of those who are different, making us open our eyes for the world around us and the individuals in it.
As I’ve said before, I believe there’re books for any occasion and thus, a novel should come at the right time, when one is properly predispositioned to read it. I found ‘Kafka on the Shore’ a bit distressing and depressive so if you are searching for something to leave you filled with hope for the world, well, that is definately not the book.
I realise that I did not tell you what the plot actually is, but that’s not the point of my review since you can find information like that everywhere. Anyway, that is from me for now. I am currently reading the last part of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and it is just…magnificent, mindblowing. The characters are the embodiment of humanity, and intellect, and spirit… and I will tell you all about it when I finish it.