My Metaphysical Murakami Milkshake

I’ve made it one of my missions this year to read a book a month, since I’ve been such a measly reader in the past few years.

So far so good…

It’s July and I finished reading my sixth book and the first of my Murakami adventures, Kafka on the Shore, earlier this month. The future looks bright! Safe to say, this is the beginning of a long magical Murakami journey for me.

I don’t think I’m in a position to call Murakami my favourite author just yet, but Kafka on the Shore had me hooked from the beginning to the end. I found myself reading the novel during my 5 minute wait for the bus, 15 minute bus ride to work and back, even while shopping with my cousin (shhh…) and whenever and wherever else I could – something I haven’t done before.

A lot of people feel that Murakami’s novels are pretentious. I agree that many are probably not suited to his kind of surreal storytelling, but one way I would describe Kafka on the Shore is therapeutic. It was to me, at least.

I encourage you to read the novel if things like an old man being able to talk to cats and make fish rain from the sky, and a plot that is as confusing as Jamie Oliver’s kids’ names (Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo and Petal Blossom Rainbow… really??), interest you. Not to mention, unexplained endings and well, no ending really. Um, and the really slow plot. Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

On that note, I’ll leave you with one of my favourite extracts from the novel:

Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step. There’s no sun there, no moon, no direction, no sense of time. Just fine white sand swirling up into the sky like pulverized bones. That’s the kind of sandstorm you need to imagine.

An you really will have to make it through that violent, metaphysical, symbolic storm. No matter how metaphysical or symbolic it might be, make no mistake about it: it will cut through flesh like a thousand razor blades. People will bleed there, and you will bleed too. Hot, red blood. You’ll catch that blood in your hands, your own blood and the blood of others.

And once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”

― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore