I just finished Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. When the English translation came out a few years ago I meant to pick it up, but then never did. Back then I was going through a period where I was reading as much of Murakami’s work as I could find, but then I got burnt out and couldn’t read any more. The same thing also happened when I read several of Salmon Rushdie’s books — it felt like I was reading the same thing over and over.
It’s not that the books are reusing the same plots, it’s more that the details that make up the story seem to keep coming up. For instance, in Kafka on the Shore and the Murakami short story I recently read there are characters in both that are very meticulous about how they handle pencils. Also in all of his books, inevitably there will come a point where the main character will cook a simple meal at home and eat it with a beer.
These are not complaints, but it does explain why I’m reading this book now and not a few years ago. I’m glad I got around to reading it since I enjoyed it — there’s strange stuff, interesting characters and good writing. Even if some of the bits and pieces do get reused, that’s OK (write what you know, after all) but I’ll just remember to read other stuff between Murakami books next time.
Up next, a pile of magazines that have been building up recently, including a New Yorker short story collection.
More: I forgot to mention that the library in this book reminds me of the Magnes Museum in Berkeley (the history of the building, the location, the layout). I also ended up reading one more thing by Murakami in the pile of magazines I went through recently (an excerpt from his book about running that was in a recent fiction issue of the New Yorker). OK, so that’s it for Murakami for now. Up next, A Canticle for Leibowitz.