My Rate: 3/5
Kafka on the Shore deals with a lot of issues, and the one issue that really struck a cord with me is emptiness. How your soul can be empty, why and how far will you go to fill that emptiness. One character said he had only half of a shadow. Being empty inside. How many of us felt this way at one time or another? Some of us have lived for a long time now feeling empty inside. What is it that makes us feel whole? Is it what we go through in life, if it is then it's no fault of yours that you feel empty. Life and time are the only things that control this feeling. You do what you can, but at the end you're not the one who decides what things you go through and feel.
Murakami's love of music can be felt throughout this novel, I'm clueless when it comes to classical music but I enjoyed reading about it. I also love that he mentions books and reading a lot. His style of writing makes you keep you reading. He has a very unique way of describing things. Take the following couple of quotes as an example:
"Her smile steps offstage for a moment, then does an encore, and all the while I'm dealing with my blushing face."
"Her tone of voice is rough and unyielding, like a loaf of bread someone forgot on the back of a shelf."
Those take you off your guard, and you start wondering how does he come up with such phrases? That's one of the reasons I enjoyed reading Kafka. There was a lot that the book was trying to say. Sometimes it got too much, Murakami is impatient sometimes to get his point across and you're trying to catch up with him. The story itself feels like a full circle somehow. Every single thing leads to another, until you understand the whole picture. I took a break from Kafka, because it became too intense for me. How much could I accept and how much should I reject? That was something that I thought a lot about. The book needs a lot of imagination, and I have that. It's just that he goes far and beyond anything else, and that is a bit unnerving. You can relate to some of the characters, while what some go through is just something weird and new. That's exciting though sometimes. I think that's why I rated it 3/5. On the whole, I enjoyed it a lot but The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is better for me.
Some beautiful quotes:
I'm the lonely voyager standing on the deck, and she's the sea. The sky is a blanket of grey, merging with the grey sea on the horizon. It's hard to tell the difference between sea and sky. Between voyager and sea. Between reality and the workings of the heart.
I go back to the reading room, where I sink down in the sofa and into the world of The Arabian Nights. Slowly, like a film fade-out, the real world evaporates. I'm alone, inside the world of the story. My favourite feeling in the world.
A dense artistic imperfection stimulates your consciousness, keeps you alert. If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I'm driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of - that certain type of perfection can only be realised through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging.
After cooking and eating a simple meal I go out on the porch and gaze up at stars. Even in a planetarium you wouldn't find this many. Some of them look really big and distinct, almost as if you could reach out and touch them. The whole thing is breathtaking.
Not just beautiful, though - the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they're watching me. What I've done up till now, what I'm going to do - they know it all. Nothing gets past their watchful eyes. As I sit there under the shining night sky, again a violent fear takes hold of me. My heart's pounding a mile a minute, and I can barely breathe. All these millions of stars looking down on me, and I've never given them more than a passing thought before. Not only the stars - how many other things haven't I noticed in the world, things I know nothing about? I suddenly feel helpless, completely powerless, and I know I'll never outrun that awful feeling.
Silence, I discover, is something you can actually hear.
Things change everyday, Mr. Nakata. With each new dawn it's not the same world as the day before. And you're not the same person you were, either.
Time expands, then contracts, all in tune with the stirrings of the heart.
Love can rebuild the world, they say, so everything's possible when it comes to love.
"We're all dreaming, aren't we?" She says. All of us are dreaming.
You know you should say something, but don't have any idea what. Words have all died in the hollow of time, piling soundlessly at the dark bottom of a volcanic lake.
Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart.