Mary's Library

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Metaphysical Musings on the Shore

I thought magical realism had run its course. Now comes KAFKA ON THE SHORE (2002, English translation 2005), by Haruki Murakami, translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel. This novel is another of the NY Times’ “10 Best Books of 2005.”

I didn’t get much beyond Chapter One. I’m not sure whether the critics would call this magical realism or fantasy or what. It’s hard to pigeon-hole a “serious” or "literary" novel in which “cats and people carry on conversations, . . . a forest harbors soldiers apparently unaged since World War II, and rainstorms of fish (and worse) fall from the sky.” After applying the Pearl Formula (minus 30 pages) I would call it unreadable.

And considering one of the major characters has suffered an injury that has left him unable to read I would categorize it as a horror story.

Publisher’s Weekly calls Murakami “a fearless writer possessed of a wildly uninhibited imagination.” Yup. “Occasionally, the writing drifts too far into metaphysical musings--mind-bending talk of parallel worlds, events occurring outside of time--and things swirl a bit at the end as the author tries, perhaps too hard, to make sense of things.” Huh?

The NY Times has this to say: “This graceful and dreamily cerebral novel, . . . tells two stories - that of a boy fleeing an Oedipal prophecy, and that of a witless old man who can talk to cats - and is the work of a powerfully confident writer.” A cat whisperer – now that’s imagination.

The blurb calls it “Extravagant in its accomplishment.” I wholly agree with the extravagant part.


At 3:56 AM PST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good, here's one I won't even put on my reading list (which is hopelessly long). I have enough trouble with the here and now, let alone worrying about things "outside of time" and talking to cats.


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