Kafka On The Shore

I am graduated, no longer in Ireland, and completely partied out after my grandma’s 80th birthday party. It is about darn time I finish reading and talk about Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. I started this book when I was in the thick of my last semester in college and was, perhaps, over ambitious in thinking I could read a book for fun along side reading several for school. I spent a few days when I got home from all the hullabaloo that was my month of May sitting on my couch with a glass of whiskey (thank you, Ireland) and reading this puzzle of a book.

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This is not a book to read when you have a lot going on or would like to just turn off your brain for a little bit. Sometimes reading it feels like you’ve got a patchwork quilt under a microscope and you’re trying to figure out which square each thread is in while trying to figure where each square goes and how all the threads and squares are connected. This book is the epitome of show, don’t tell. It follows two main characters. There is Kafka Tamura, whose real first name we never discover but it is his real last name, and Nakata, who can talk to cats. Nakata and Kafka never meet but their stories are intertwined. We meet Kafka as he has started his journey running away from home, the reasons are not made explicitly clear but you do get the impression he is better off not at home. Nakata’s story starts with him as a child in a mysterious accident that left him a little mentally disabled but with ability to chat with cats.

The magical elements of the book are written in casually. They are not an accepted element of the world, we get scenes of policemen, newspaper headlines, and news reporters astounded at leeches and fish falling from the sky, but the elderly and simple Nakata and depressed and impressionable Kafka take most of these occurrences as a fact of their non reality. Murakami keeps the readers constantly guessing what is real by writing scenes only to, chapters later, reveal they could have been dreams, but never quite confirming either way. This forces the reader to not only question what is real within the story but question whether it matters if it is real or not. By the time we are thrown completely into a clearly magical scene we no longer really care if it’s real, we’re caught up with the substance of the story and the reactions of the characters. What does it matter if it’s real or not if the characters are reacting to it? What does it matter if magic exists or not if you still haven’t found the reality that you’re looking for? Murakami is an insanely talented writer who shows you bits of the quilt and let’s you decide what it actually looks like.

Common Place Book Entries

“Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.”

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

“Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on.”

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep listening. Keep creating.

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