“Her cup is sitting there, with a bit of tea left in it. I leave it where it is, without touching it. The cup looks like a metaphor. A metaphor of memories that, before long, will be lost.”
Out of context this quote actually sounds lovely, but after ages of reading about people buying underpants and eating eel and taking dumps I was pretty much “urh!” by the time we got to saying things are metaphors. Because not just the tea cups, no
“The whole world is a metaphor.”
Shut up, this means nothing and is nothing and just shut up. The world is not a metaphor and none of this makes any sense or is in any way profound and I hated this book so damn much.
Kafka on the shore starts out really strong with a set of intertwining perspectives of the same incident. A school class went to the mountains during the second world war and something mysterious happens. We read the case files from the investigation interviewing the people involved. Years later the school teacher writes to one of the investigators with some new knowledge. This knowledge and these people are never heard of again. The incident is just part of Mr. Nagata’s back story. We meet him roughly 5 decades later. Mr. Nagata is not very bright, as he says over and over again like a bajillion times. HeHe was on the mountain that day and lost his intelligence as a result. We never figure out what happened there, but now Mr. Nagata walks around talking to cats and going to the toilet a lot. Something which Murakami LOVES including apparently.
The other main character is a whiny teenager and I will seriously cut you if you dislike Holden Caulfield, but think this kid who pretentiously names himself “Kafka”, is anything close to interesting or bright. He is SO annoying. He does nothing other than putter about, not saying much yet still manages to be so damn nerve grating. At least Holden Caulfield was trying to figure himself out.
The plot makes no sense. It seems more like a backdrop for the characters to talk about their love of literature and music of which they drone on and on and on. This adds nothing to the story, does not deepen the relationships between characters, but does give the impression that the author knows a lot about classical music so good for you Mr. Murakami, I guess.
Also can we talk about Murakami’s women? There was a loooong scene with two insufferable “feminists” that seemed pulled out of an MRA’s vision of feminists. They visited a library and complained that there were no separate bathrooms for women, like what? And in the end they were sorely ridiculed by Oshima, Kafka’s friend, who appeared to be a transgendered man. Something that was only revealed in that scene and had NO relation to the story, except that from then on some of the other characters misgendered him everyonce in a while. Uhm okay then.
Then there’s a rape scene that I knew about, but turned out to be SO uncomfortable. It happens in a dream, but there seems to be no point to it. We’re still rooting for the rapist in the end, though I have no idea why. That rape scene was SO unnecessary and seemed really only to be there so that Kafka could “kill his father, and sleep with his mother and sister.” Like neat idea and all, but no it does not work at all. Especially because that girls was not his sister, and we never know if Kafka actually kills his father or if the fifty something woman he sleeps with (!) is actually his mother. I mean, just urh.
“It’s easy to forget things you don’t need anymore.”
Seems Murakami forgot about the plot in this one. Read the wind up bird chronicle instead.