Last week I spent a lot of time sitting, and waiting. Waiting
outside the operating theatre before, during and after Wife’s surgery; sitting
in the room while Wife slept; sitting in a corridor while Wife
underwent physiotherapy sessions. I spent these periods reading Haruki
Murakami’s Kafka On The Shore.
I had read two of Murakami’s short stories before (in The New Yorker)
and on both occasions I was left with a feeling I still cannot put
clearly into words. Both were grounded in reality, and yet they
seemed surreal. The stories had a lightness and simplicity one
rarely encounters in fiction, and I found I could enter that dreamlike
dimension and examine its elements one by one, like a child looking at
the wonders of under-water world in an aquarium.
Kafka On The Shore was different: dense, packed
with action and containing many elements of fantasy. I also found it
lacked the precision of language I had seen in the stories. I
initially thought it to be an issue with translation, but Philip
Gabriel had translated one of the stories as well. On the whole, a
fascinating read (although in some places – some “unreal” scenes – I
did not grasp the underlying metaphor which left me wondering about the
significance of the act).
Next on the list: South Of The Border, West Of The Sun (The strangeness begins with his titles, doesn’t it?)