A few days back, I entered a local bookstore not planning on buying anything, just to look (as always), and I hear a voice ask someone behind the desk: “Do you have Kafka on the Shore?” She said yes and led him to it. Where had I heard that title? . . . the new Murakami! I didn’t know it was out yet! So I went over and picked one up . . . there, of course, was a shudder within me. Still, thirty bucks for a new hardback? I usually waited until it came around to J.B.’s bookstore in the Market. But then I read: “as ambitious as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles” and before I knew it I was walking out of the store with that book. 30 bucks is nothing compared to a piece of this!
I would recommend reading the book like I did: knowing nothing going in. After you are done, I would recommend this piece on the book by John Updike (you have to hunt down and destroy 2 popup/sneakunders to read this link, but it is probably worth it).
Another one of my favorite authors Jonathan Lethem interviews Murakami in this link . . . (tho I was disappointed with Lethem’s last book of shorts).
. . . a couple months ago, after finishing Sputnik Sweetheart, I was of the inconsolable mood that I could read nothing other than more Murakami. All of the other titles and authors on the bookshelves blended in with the dust. And then, when I least expected it, I was introduced to an author who would instantly leap into my all-time top ten favorite writer list: Alfred Bester. J.B. (of Books Like a Motherfucker–BLMF, for short–a don’t-miss used bookstore in the lower level of Pike Place Market, Seattle) had recommended and then sold me a copy of The Stars My Destination. My profound excitement caused by reading this book for the first time was nearly equaled in passion by my disbelief that I had gone this far in my life without ever having heard of Alfred Bester.
Alfred Bester: 1913 – 1987
“He died alone and was remembered at a convention that same year. Alfred Bester left everything to his bartender, who was surprised because he didn’t even remember Bester.”
Last nite before I finished Kafka on the Shore I read the part where one of the characters remembers a scene from 400 Blows wherein the boy-hero steals a pitcher of milk and drinks the whole thing. I didn’t remember that part but then me and Pagan hadn’t watched the whole thing yet . . . so later that nite we put the movie in because we still had to finish it (I hadn’t mentioned to her that I had just read a mention of it), and what scene does it start exactly on? Where he steals the milk and . . . which is just a coincidence but particularly edifying after finishing Kafka on the Shore which very much touches on coincidences . . . or, mysterious patterns which crop up in our lives. I doubt if Murakami is as sure as RAW is about what those coincidences or patterns might mean, if anything . . .
“I write weird stories. I don’t know why I like weirdness so much. Myself, I’m a very realistic person. I don’t trust anything New Age — or reincarnation, dreams, Tarot, horoscopes. I don’t trust anything like that at all. I wake up at 6 in the morning and go to bed at 10, jogging every day and swimming, eating healthy food. I’m very realistic. But when I write, I write weird. That’s very strange. When I’m getting more and more serious, I’m getting more and more weird. When I want to write about the reality of society and the world, it gets weird.”