Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (translated by Philip Gabriel)

Murakami is like the orphaned love-child of Raymond Carver and Franz Kafka. His characters have these spare, charged dialogues (like Carver) but in the context of very strange events (like Kafka). Ultimately, I admired this novel--smart, surprising, complex--but I'm more attached to Murakami's short stories (start with the book The Elephant Vanishes). He frequently creates an atmosphere that is mournful and haunting and very weird. I love immersing in that feeling for the span of a story and then being left lingering in it when I finish the story. But with a novel, when I have to enter in and out of that feeling each time I pick the novel up to read a little further, it diminishes some. But that's a fairly subjective response. Murakami maintains what he does in stories in his novels, it's just for me, I like that feeling compacted rather than extended.

For those who are interested, Murakami's short story "Tony Takitani" has been made into a haunting little film of the same name.

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