peteg's blog

Haruki Murakami: Kafka on the Shore

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The view from Alamo Square Park.

Kate suggested I read something by her favourite author; while in Berkeley I found that Vijay had read it as well ("I enjoyed it as a story."). I finished it off while huddling from the wind blowing across Alamo Square Park after a sushi lunch with Peter Eckersley. The view of San Francisco down towards the Embarcadero is legendary.

This book is essentially a long rambling narrative in the magical realism tradition. There is quite a bit of sex and gender politics, with something of a Lolita arc with the gender roles switched. The best bits for me were when Nakata talks with cats. (Upon reflection I also see the truck driver as an echo of Kipling's Kim, with Nakata so obviously being the Tibetan Lama.) Most things got sufficiently resolved by the end, but I didn't invest enough effort to fathom the symbolism: what happened to Johnny Walker? What was with the Colonel? (Or was it Hồ Chí Minh?) What was with the iguana-like thing getting stranded? The gesturing at postmodern-ism and idealism (Hegelism, thesis, antithesis, synthesis, etc.) left me cold. I wonder if he wrote it to be enjoyed or studied.