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Michael's Book Babble

I'm an indie author and a scribbler of inane babble. I talk about books I've read/liked. Or at least, that's the plan.


Most of the reviews will be considered "mini-reviews." Usually, it's mostly my reaction to what I've been reading. There are people who are far better at doing full and helpful reviews. But I still have fun doing them, and hope you enjoy them!

Getting lost is half the fun when you're reading Murakami. Dizzying and awesome.

Kafka on the Shore - Philip Gabriel, Haruki Murakami

Murakami is one of those rare authors where you don’t mind getting a bit lost when you read one of his books. In fact, if you’ve read anything by the man you kind of expect to get lost. Nothing is ever what it seems. Objects, even people, take on different meanings without you even realizing it at first. Even though I just recently became a fan of his longer works (I knew him first through his excellent short stories), I feel like I know if I’ve truly enjoyed one of his books by continuing to think about it long after I’ve finished.


Kafka on the Shore is no exception. I’ve seen it described as a “mind-bender” by many critics and reviewers, and boy is that ever an accurate description. When you first begin the story of young Kafka, it seems like it’s just going to be a story about a young runaway trying to get away from his controlling father. But then we switch to another story, which involves somebody completely different. An older man, Nakata, who has the strange ability to talk to cats. The book switches between the two with each chapter and at first you’re not sure as to how the stories connect. It’s a strange and wonderfully bizarre trip filled with surprises.


A word of warning to my fellow pet lovers: There’s part in the book where cats are murdered. And it’s all very, very graphic. The good news is it really only lasts for a chapter or so, and skipping a few paragraphs during it won’t hurt you if it’s too much (I admit that I had to skip around during the scene). Also, when this part does happen in the book, it happens in a way where we’re not entirely sure if it’s real or not. Still, I felt I should give a little disclaimer.


Did I completely understand everything that happened in this book? No, but that’s okay. I’ll probably want to revisit it one of these days, as I’m sure I missed out on a couple of key things. With Murakami, I don’t mind getting lost. I welcome it. It’s more about the journey, rather than coming up with an explanation for everything that happened. You have to prepare yourself for getting lost. In some ways it reminds me of his masterpiece, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (which I still think has the most satisfying endings when it comes to Murakami’s books—at least the ones I’ve read so far).


Kafka on the Shore is vintage Murakami. It’s strange, dark, thrilling, and heart-breaking. If you’re in the mood for a real “mind-bender,” and if you’re willing to completely lose yourself to the story, then I think it’s something you should check out. I can see why this is ranked as one of his strongest. A crazy and puzzling trip that still lingers with me even after it’s all said and done.


4 and a half stars