When love is not enough… or, the day I abandoned Kafka. On the shore.


Dear Haruki Murakami…

        You know that I fell in love with your peculiar imagination as soon as I laid my hands on a book of your for the very first time. The smooth, polished, one-of-a kind narrative style combined with convoluted, mysterious, many a times twisted plot and full-blooded, authentic characters made each story fascinating and enjoyable. 

       Even when I wasn’t sure if I “understood” you, together we’ve visited so many wonderful places, through your eyes, I’ve explored even the most far-flung corners of Japan and I’ve learnt a great deal about your culture. I danced, danced, danced in the Dolphin Hotel, I listened to Nat King Cole with Shimamoto and Hajime, I went on Pilgrimage with Tsukuru Tazaki in search of our colours, I’ve explored different shades of sexual desire with Miu and Sumire, I crossed boundaries and borders with Aomame and Tango, damn, I even chased a Wild Sheep with the Rat!

     I haven’t heard from you for quite some time now and so I decided to accompany the young Tamura on his journey, full of uncanny encounters and I really tried hard to make any sense of it. To find a purpose. To actually let myself be engaged in his story. I’m sorry, I’ve made it only to page 250. 

And then I abandoned Kafka. Literally, on the shore [pun intended].


I still love you, though. And I hope our next journey will be fulfilling.


PS: Don’t take it personally, it seems like the book has its diehard admirers, so it might be just me…


       To put it bluntly, this is how I could describe my latest literally experience, which left me utterly confused and, well, disappointed. I didn’t use to leave books unfinished and even if I had wanted to do so, I would feel so bad about it. And I really used to like Murakami, a lot. But this time, I just gave up! Kafka on the shore beat me.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my divorce with the author, he still stands among my favourites, but seriously, what is this all about? As much as I tried to put the pieces of this uncanny jigsaw together, I failed miserably. This book seems to be simply beyond my comprehension, maybe I lack the intellectual capacity to read (deep) between the lines and the patience to even care about how the whole story ends, I don’t know. Even if most of Murakami’s works I’ve read, and there’s been quite a lot of them, appeared ‘strange’ convoluted, even if I didn’t fully understand them, I’d find them gripping, pleasurable and interesting reads. Kafka on the shore is not only without rhyme or reason, but, worse still, pretty boring.

      And to think I even made notes and tried to follow the plot closely!  I was even quite curious at the beginning when the protagonist reached the island of Shikoku Island an met this young girl, whom she hoped to be his missing sister. I wanted him to find his long gone mother and get to know more about the prophecy, but I got easliy distracted by the interviews with the witnesses of strange things happening in the mountains, the hysterical teacher and her erotic dream, Kafka’s contemplation on personal hygiene and other trifles… But when the eerie Mr Nakata hit the stage and started talking with cats, among them Mimi, an intelligent Siamese cat (in love with Puccini’s operas) my mind raised an objection. Anyway, on op of everything else we have Johnnie Walker (right, the association between his appearance and the popular  Scotch whisky is the author’s intention), a cat killer who totally repelled me with his cruel ritual of collecting cats’ souls to make flutes from them… That was just too much. I’m pretty sure there is a hidden agenda, meaning,  sense, you name it. I just don’t feel like digging so deep.

       I do hope that Murakami’s newest release that I’ve just pre-ordered will  make up for the 3 days that I wasted on “Kafka”… But, hey, let’s make something useful out of it! The bitter pill I had to swallow made me think about two things: leaving books unfinished and favourite authors and how it makes us feel when their works do not meet our expectations, so I’d like to invite you to the discussion:

  • Have you ever abandoned a book that did not engage you right away? If so, did it make you feel ‘guilty’? Why?
  • Isn’t reading meant to be an entertainment, a sheer pleasure – which allows you     to broaden horizons, no denying – and not yet another duty to fulfill?
  • Do you have your all-time favourite authors? Is there any book of theirs
    that you hate and/or haven’t been able to finish? Dit it put you off for

       I’ll be happy to read about your experiences so feel free to comment.
Please do! 🙂


Author: la_bambola

Name’s Patricia, but you can call me Pati. Or Pat. As you like it. la_bambola, because of Patty Pravo. “Cerca trova”. Because I constantly seek. Purpose, happiness, motivation. The lost joy of life. And I find. The sheer excitement of starting a new book, intoxication with words. The beauty of art in its various forms. The simple pleasure of catching those fleeting moments. The fulfillment in making them meaningful. Who am I? A simple, yet no ordinary girl. Fighting with her demons, trying to find her place in the world. Currently working in an IT company. Passionate about books, languages, travels, sometimes drawing portraits and never saying no to good movies or engrossing tv shows (even if I’m very selective, it’s just that I do value my time). Fascinated by the mesmerizing, exotic land of India, its culture, colours, literature, language and cinematography.

2 thoughts

  1. I find myself having some time on my hands, so I will play along with answering your questions 🙂 But first – yeah, I agree “Kafka…” is boring and not (in my opinion) best work of Murakami. Some people would tell me otherwise, but we usually agree to disagree… BUT I like the reference in the title of your post to Nine Inch Nails “Love is not enough”, though I’m not sure if intended… 😉

    1) The first book I dropped was “The Deluge” (Potop) by Henryk Sienkiewicz. I know it’s a classic, but I just fell asleep and decided to tell it “NO NO NO”. Second book (and last one so far) I’ve never finished was “50 shades of gray” – best decision ever, so I REGRET NOTHING ❤ As for the rest of the books – I'm like RDJ in "Tropic Thunder", playing Kirk Lazarus: "I don't drop character 'till I've done the DVD commentary" 🙂 I just like to have a opinion even on bad books (they might not be bad for me) and I feel like I'm not able to have a full one if I won't make it to the finish line – which might be the reason I'd feel guilt, if I've left a book unfinished (with two exceptions listed above).

    2) Pleasure and entertainment, broadening my horizons – and challenging myself and my world-view from time to time 🙂 I find it fun to read sometimes something I totally don't agree with, it makes you uneasy which is sometimes a good exercise for your views.

    3) I have many, many authors whose books I enjoy, so I will leave it at that – I don't have just one.

    OMG, I should stop writing such long replies </3


    1. You must be kidding me, the longer your replies the more happy I am, especially that you’re literally the ONLY one that bothers to comment so far! 🙂

      “The Deluge”, oh, I don’t think I even approached this classic, or maybe I also fell asleep after the first few pages? Anyway, it does not come as a surprise that you abandoned it, no matter how much of a ‘classic’ it is 😉 Shame, but I didn’t read a lot of the compulsory reading list in high school, but it still gives me the chance to do it now, and from a different, more mature point of view (for instance, there’s a beautiful edition of “The Doll” by B.Prus waiting patiently of my shelf).

      I agree with you that it’s good to finish even ‘bad’ books to have an opinion, but I’ve finally grown up to the conclusion that I really do not have to have an opinion about every hyped book/movie/pick your work of art/etc. – I read for myself, it enriches me and it’s fun to share opinions, but now I’d rather think twice, whether I want to waste my time on something that simply tires me out and end up frustrated, or maybe feel a bit guilty, but come to terms with it and pick something else (and the list never ends… ;-)). IT probably makes be the only person in the world who read only the first installment of Stieg Larsson’s Milennium trilogy and I does want to read the rest and pretend that I’m crazy about it. I’m not. BTW, all I that I read in 50 Shades of Gray was a random sex scene and the first 20 or so pages and trust me, it sufficed!

      As for favourite authors, I’m sure you’ve got plenty, but I’m curious if any of them ‘disappointed’ you with one of their works, like Murakami did in my case, with Kafka? If so, please share more details (yep, I’m brazenly curious!).

      PS: Haven’t heard the NIN’s song before, so the reference not intended, but I’m listening to it now and I like it!


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