February 5, 2005

Sleep? We need no sleep, we have new Murakami.

Made the cardinal mistake of trying to induce drowsiness by reading, some wee hour this morning. Not just by reading, but by opening the new Haruki Murakami novel Kafka on the Shore which has been patiently looking at me since I brought the hardcover home from work. Amazon delivers there, of course, since I'm there during the day.

Aside: I wonder how many people have blogged about the dichotomy of the instant-on consumer shipping world and the 'must-get-signature' crapola that screws with it? Plus the 'your work address is not on file' nonsense or the 'we don't accept personal packages at work' much less the 'THERE MIGHT BE A TERRORIST MOUSE IN THERE YOU INSENSITIVE CLOD' meme? Must hit Google.

In any case, Kafka on the Shore was a fast read (but not fast enough to prevent me from seeing daylight twice that cycle, bitch whine moan) and an enjoyable one. I'll be going back. Murakami has returned to his two tested themes - converging plotlines and parallel worlds. As usual, human sexuality, classical music, cooking, contemporary Japan, literature, pop culture and modern automotive blandness all make their appearances, along with some detailed bits of niche but important history which may or may not correspond to reality - but that correspondence isn't quite important.

Kafka on the Shore refers to the name of one of the central characters (a fifteen-year-old runaway named Kafka), a painting with the same title, and in fact at least one situation in the story that may or may not involve the character. Throw in erased hollow people (at least one of whom is a nice grandfatherly type who is fond of telling people Nakata is not to bright - that's his name, he speaks in third person - but can talk to cats, Siamese most easily), the mysteries of living spirits, and a green Miata with a bit of a deathwish and there you go - a Murakami novel.

It's grounded in a much more recognizable setting than, say, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World but that's because the latter is a deliberate genre piece. I was actually reminded a bit, in the final third of the book, of a Tim Powers book - Last Call, I think it was. A great deal of everyday magic happens, which may or may not be happening, and may or may not be having enormous impact. Film at eleven. Unless the world ends first. But if it doesn't, we may just skip that segment of the news, and you'll never know.

Oh, and the blank homeless gent is a shiatsu master.

Posted by jbz at February 5, 2005 10:33 PM | TrackBack

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