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! 🙂