David Smedberg, on 20 March 2011 - 08:09 PM, said:
I've finished reading, and my thoughts run a bit long (about 1500 words) so I've posted it on my website ... I look forward to hearing other people's responses/responses to my response.
Ok, I don't think there are very many of us who have finished this yet. And anyhow it's still March, so let's not discuss any of the spoilers just yet. I'm a little concerned that even a discussion without spoilers may potentially discourage the others from finishing the book (at least this book). Sometimes, it doesn't take much to convince me to put particular books down and not pick them up again for a couple years as I tear through a ton of more enjoyable books first. So, even though we'll be expressing disappointment, I'll qualify my disappointment by saying that it was still worth reading, if for no other reason than we need to have discussions about books like this once in a while.
It is hilarious. It is disgusting and offensive. It is exciting. It is confusing and frustrating. My overall impression of it is negative, and I’ll try to explain why below.
I certainly enjoyed Murakami's writing style (even in a translation). But to say my overall impression of it was still negative would be an understatement. Having finished it, the only thing I haven't decided is whether it rates in the "books I hate" category (rating it a 0 out of 5) or the "books I dislike strongly" category (a 1 out of 5 for good writing).
Of course, it’s also worth thinking about KotS as a work of art. I say: Murakami has clearly honed his craft. Every bit of every chapter contributes, and my overall sense was of being in strong, well-accustomed hands. I don’t have any misgivings about KotS on grounds of craft.
It is for this reason and this reason alone that I'm not giving up on Haruki Murakami yet after just one book. I do need to take a break from him for a while.
Perhaps it will be helpful if I quote what a young woman says about “Kafka on the Shore”, a lyric poem that the novel is named after:
I think she [the author of the poem, Miss Saeki] found the right words by bypassing procedures like meaning and logic. She captured words in a dream, like delicately catching hold of a butterfly’s wings as its flutters around. Artists are those who can evade the verbose. (p. 225)
It would be a mistake to try to explain exactly what the meaning of KotS is. Instead, I think we can examine each image as it goes by and see what it evokes.
Maybe it's because I'm also currently gritting my teeth through Rob Bell's latest right now, but I'm am starting to get really tired of all this talk about bypassing old-fashioned methodology like meaning and logic, tradition and reason, absolute claims to truth and doctrine. I realize it could be a mistake to try and explain the meaning behind Kafka on the Shore
because Murakami himself could potentially have decided for it not to have a meaning. I keep being told that it would be a mistake to try and "label" "judge" or "categorize" Bell's beliefs on hell because Bell never intended to use his theological book to advocate for a particular doctrine. But, it's probably not fair, I know. Kafka on the Shore
is a work of dreamy fiction, Love Wins
is, well, that's another thread.
What I think I will do, David, is disagree with you. There is a meaning in Kafka on the Shore
, and there is one because it is impossible to write a fictional story without the way you look at the world (your philosophy) affecting how you write the story. I think it's worth trying to explain what that meaning is. I actually don't
think that it would be a mistake to try. The things in this story all happen for a reason. Just as the events in the novels of Shusaku Endo all happen for a reason. The author put them there on purpose.
Even if an author intends for his book to have no meaning, he's still taking a side whether it likes it or not. A story where the world the characters live in has no meaning, and their actions are all pointless in the end, is a story of a world according to one particular philosophical point of view.
On a separate note, while I'm not absolutely against reading another book along this vein for our club again, let's try and go in a different direction for our next book selection.
We'll lift the spoiler ban in discussion here sometime in early April.
Edited by Persiflage, 22 March 2011 - 10:03 AM.