Reading a book should always be easy especially if it’s excellently written. But there’s always an exception to that rule. There are books so beautifully written that oftentimes you come across some lines that will just make you want to stop reading, stare at the wall, and question everything. Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore is an example.
It took me almost seven months to read it because as I had said, there are lines which made me stop reading because I can’t take them anymore…
Seven months. It broke my longest read which was three months of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. I have a great excuse back then. I was just a high school student and my brain was weak for a Dan Brown novel. But I did manage.
Going back to Kafka on the Shore, here’s my list of excuses, er, reasons why it took me seven months (almost the whole 2017) to finish it:
First things, first! The characters. O, I hate the characters! Yeah. You read it right. I HATE the characters especially the main character, Kafka. I hate him. He got this teenage angst that irritates me so much. O, that’s not the best statement to express why I hate him. Anyway, he got this selfishness I just can’t relate to. Maybe, that’s it? I don’t know…
Aside from him, I also hate Miss Saeki. She’s the lady Kafka likes who is a lot older than him and is assumed to be his mother. I hate her too! She’s too mysterious. Not the sexy mysterious type but the creepy one. She’s so well described in the novel that her loneliness just creeps through my skin. Ugh!
But aside from them, I have two characters from the novel whom I admire too. They’re Hoshino and the old Nakata. Maybe, I just have a soft heart for kids and oldies that’s why I like Nakata. But his situation is quite humorous at some point. The only parts I enjoyed much in the novel. He is innocent and simple-minded but he plays a major role in the story.
Hoshino, on the other hand, was unexpectedly good. He was just supposed to be helping Nakata on his ride but he chose to stay and I think that made him likable. I also like Oshima who is a helper in his own way. I like him because he (or she) lives this quiet life in a library–a lifestyle I also want but can’t afford right now. 😅
All in all, it took me the whole book to understand them all. And I guess, I still don’t understand them after…
This is dominant in Murakami’s novels. The sensuality. It’s uncensored state made it more special. The author did not use euphemisms, he just wrote the scenes poetically putting the m* word, f* word, p* word etc. because who the hell needs alternatives for these words?
There are parts that are really creepy. I can still remember the feeling of reading that 15-year-old Miss Saeki who I understand is a ghost or memory or whatever. She was visiting Kafka in the middle of the night. And Kafka was alone and all!
Ladies and gents, here’s the real reason why I haven’t finish the book faster. I never read it at night. 👻
Yes. It deserves the word weird. Or is there a word weirder than weird? There are just details that never goes with logic. For instance, what the hell would KFC Colonel Sanders do in this novel? Seriously? Haha. Is this kind of inside joke or what? Then there’s the stone to which Hoshino and Nakata tried to talk to. Okay? And here’s more…Can you explain to me that place where Kafka went just before the novel ends? How about the two soldiers who brought him there? And the fact also that Nakata can talk to cats at the beginning of the novel made me hope for explanation at the end especially his condition. What really happened to that day of his childhood in which every thing changed? I just can’t understand a thing. But I kept on reading just because…
And here’s the last reason. This novel is full of unpredictability. A simple novel would just have an introduction, complication, climax then blah blah blah… But Kafka on the Shore just made me lose my talent in guessing what will happen next. The details were out of the box…out of the world rather…which made me love it more.
And an extra and unpredictable thing that made my reading at the end a whole lot better– as Kafka made a new journey in the train, the song of Jason Mraz played in the background. It was the song In Your Hands.
Anyway, Kafka on the Shore is the third novel I had read from Haruki Murakami. After reading Norwegian Wood, I promised myself not to read anything from him anymore but then I had Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki (And His Years of Pilgrimage)…and now I finished Kafka on the Shore. I don’t know. Murakami is a very different writer who gives and extraordinary experience to the reader…And just as I’m about to stop myself from reading more novels from him, someone suggested another book from him. O, well. Who am I to say no?
By the way, here are my top 10 favorite quotes from Kafka on the Shore:
1. There’s something childish about her that has a calming effect.
2. Between reality and the working of the heart.
3. I’m afraid there are twisted people like that in the world.
4. It’s like I’m here, but in a way it’s not me.
5. Every class has a student like that, one who’ll study what he needs to without supervision… A child who’s innately capable.
6. She just isn’t bound by conventional ways of doing things.
7. I never ask the impossible. That’s a colossal waste of time.
8. This place is too calm, too natural–too complete. I don’t deserve it. At least not yet.
9. Pointless thinking is worse than no thinking at all.
10. People need a place they can belong.