Sunday, January 15, 2006

Kafka on the Shore


I've been reading 'Kafka on the Shore' the new Murakami book over the past few weeks. This is the first fiction work of his I have read and I am finding it highly enjoyable. Whilst some magical realism leaves me totally confused this story has me obsessed. The secret is I can just about understand it. He hasn't made it completely unaccessible, at least, to a beginner. The story is in two halves, one part about a 15 year old runaway in Japan and the other about an old man - Nagata who speaks to and searches for cats.

Up to now I am about a quarter way through and I love it. Each chapter is delightful, strange, intriguing, charming. I was quite surprised to see mixed reviews of the book on Amazon, I think other people who have read all his books find this one rather poor. I don't understand that. I didn't think I would enjoy it, books with two stories don't normally appeal to me.

In this section, Kafka the runaway is discussing with his friend Oshima the reason he likes to listen to Schubert when he is driving. What he is talking about is why people are attracted to imprefection:

"If the composition's imperfect, why would so many pianists try to master it?
'Good question' Oshima says, and pauses as music fills in the silence 'I have no great explanation for it, but one thing I can say: works that have a certain imperfection to them have an appeal for that very reason - or at least they appeal to certain types of people. Just like you are attracted to Soseki's The Miner. There's something in it that draws you in, more than fully realised novels like Kokoro or Sanshiro. You discover something about that work that tugs at your heart - or maybe we should say that the work discovers you. Schubert's Sonata in D Major is like that."

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