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[Kafka on the Shore] by Haruki Murakami

75 Books Challenge for 2017

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1Berly
Jul 25, 2017, 3:02pm Top



This is a stand-alone group read for August, 2017. Because we can!! Who's in?

Kafka on the Shore is powered by two remarkable characters: a teenage boy, Kafka Tamura, who runs away from home either to escape a gruesome oedipal prophecy or to search for his long-missing mother and sister; and an aging simpleton called Nakata, who never recovered from a wartime affliction and now is drawn toward Kafka for reasons that, like the most basic activities of daily life, he cannot fathom.

As their paths converge, and the reasons for that convergence become clear, Haruki Murakami enfolds readers in a world where cats talk, fish fall from the sky, and spirits slip out of their bodies to make love or commit murder. Kafka on the Shore displays one of the world’s great storytellers at the peak of his powers.

2weird_O
Jul 25, 2017, 4:13pm Top

First to report in, I am. Come on all! Tiptoe into the surf.

3Berly
Jul 25, 2017, 7:25pm Top

Excellent job reporting for duty!! I have the first cover up above. And my version is only 467 pages.

So, I have heard this is a quest book and according to its author, the novel

"...contains several riddles, but there aren't any solutions provided. Instead several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It's hard to explain, but that's the kind of novel I set out to write."

So, this should be fun....!

4karenmarie
Jul 26, 2017, 8:42am Top

Tentatively in...

5Crazymamie
Jul 26, 2017, 10:01am Top

I'm in. I have it on Kindle.

6jnwelch
Jul 26, 2017, 1:31pm Top

I'm in. This is my favorite of his books, and I'm very much looking forward to a re-read.

7msf59
Jul 26, 2017, 9:19pm Top

I finally snagged my audio copy of this from the library, so I am ready, for my very first reread of a Murakami.

Like, Joe, this remains my favorite of his work and it was also my debut.

Thanks for setting this up, Kimmers.

8EBT1002
Jul 27, 2017, 11:46pm Top

Yay! I'm in! (well, I should be since I was one of the guilty parties who started this thing)

Thanks for making the thread, Kim. I'm totally excited.

The whole thing about riddles gives me pause but I'm curious. And I know this group will hold my hand through the cat thing.

9streamsong
Jul 28, 2017, 2:33pm Top

I'm tentatively in, too, although my reading is quite slow at present.

10arubabookwoman
Jul 29, 2017, 7:31pm Top

I need to go see if I can find my copy of the book which is in some pile of books somewhere in the house.

11souloftherose
Jul 30, 2017, 5:11am Top

I'm tentatively in too - I've had a copy for years and loved the other Murakami I've read (Norwegian Wood) but feeling a bit nervous that Kafka might be too strange for me.

12karenmarie
Jul 30, 2017, 10:17am Top

Okay. I've pulled it off the shelf and read The Boy Named Chow and the first two chapters. So far, so good!

13EBT1002
Jul 30, 2017, 10:40pm Top

>12 karenmarie: You're off and running!

14Berly
Aug 1, 2017, 12:12am Top

Okay...finished my other book and ready to open to the first page...!

15luvamystery65
Aug 1, 2017, 2:14pm Top

Following for now. Not sure if I'll join, but I hope so.

16LovingLit
Aug 1, 2017, 6:12pm Top

>3 Berly: ...only 467 pages.
:)

17karenmarie
Aug 1, 2017, 9:03pm Top

Five chapters in, and so far it's fascinating and beautifully written.

18Berly
Aug 1, 2017, 9:05pm Top

>15 luvamystery65: You know you want to.....! : )

>16 LovingLit: Yup. And we will all be sad at the end and want more.

>17 karenmarie: Close behind you and agreed.

19cameling
Edited: Aug 2, 2017, 12:37pm Top

I'm in. Glad I found the thread.

My version of the book has 615 pages.

20luvamystery65
Aug 2, 2017, 3:57pm Top

>18 Berly: Yes I do, but my ROOT books must take priority. I did order it from the library so we'll see. ;-)

21Berly
Aug 3, 2017, 2:07am Top

>19 cameling: Oooh! I like the cover!

>20 luvamystery65: ; ) The solution to your problem is read ...FASTER!! LOL

22Berly
Aug 3, 2017, 2:11am Top

In "The Boy Named Crow" and the first chapter, what is with the bold type and repetition of lines?

And I have just met the talking cat.

23karenmarie
Edited: Aug 3, 2017, 10:09am Top

>22 Berly: Hmm. I wish I knew, but I think this is a novel where I'm going to be doomed to not understanding things.

There are three stories going on right now - Kafka, Nakata and cats, and the curious incident of the unconscious children in 1944.

It's all very well written and intriguing. I'm up to chapter 11.

24jnwelch
Aug 3, 2017, 10:26am Top

I'm just starting in it -haven't gotten to Nakata (one of my favorite characters ever) or the cats yet. It's great to be reading it again.

25Crazymamie
Aug 3, 2017, 10:41am Top

>22 Berly: I started the book yesterday, and I was reading it while listening to the audio, so my guess is that the bold print is what Kafka is thinking in his inner mind - what he is saying to himself but not out loud.

26Berly
Aug 3, 2017, 12:22pm Top

>23 karenmarie: I don't think I am going to understand everything either. But I am okay with that!

I am going to boldface the chapters I want to talk about, that way if any readers are not to that point they can skip and come back later if they want. And maybe use some spoilers. ; )

Chapter 6. So I am guessing that Nakata is the young boy from the unconscious group that was in the hospital. And the cat told him that his shadow was only half as deep as most peoples so he lost something of himself in the woods. UFO's here?

>24 jnwelch: I can already tell that I am going to love this one!

>25 Crazymamie: Crow and Chapter 1. I agree. It is stylistically interesting. And I am not sure what purpose Crow served. It could have just been an inner dialogue without him.

27jnwelch
Aug 4, 2017, 11:53am Top



Painting of Nakata from Kafka on the Shore by Ciaran Murphy

28cameling
Aug 4, 2017, 1:21pm Top

Aww.. I love the painting of Nakata. Good find, Joe.

Crow, I think, is Kafka's imaginary friend/conscience and the bold text are the conversations he has with Crow in his mind.

I did so love the conversation between cat and Nakata. I've had to stop at the end of chapter 8 because the unfortunate annoyance of work is interrupting my reading. Grr...

29Berly
Edited: Aug 4, 2017, 7:46pm Top

>27 jnwelch: I love that painting!!

Here is another image I found by Sam Bosma. Who knew artists were into illustrating books just because? Also, I don't understand the significance of the couple under the umbrella...yet.

30Berly
Aug 4, 2017, 5:50pm Top

>28 cameling: The second time Crow showed up I came to the same conclusion--that he is actually Kafka's inner voice.

Sorry work got in the way. I hate when that happens!!! Luckily, the weekend is upon us and hopefully you'll get more reading time.

31Berly
Edited: Aug 4, 2017, 7:45pm Top

Nakata just met this character in Chapter 14. And his guide to meet him was not a cat, but a dog!



Who is he and why is he important? Don't answer that! Unless you hide it behind a spoiler. ; )

32karenmarie
Aug 4, 2017, 7:06pm Top

I'm reading chapter 13, but have put it down for today and will enjoy a quiet, coffee-infused read of several chapters tomorrow morning. It is just soooo good!

33Berly
Aug 4, 2017, 9:50pm Top

Okay. Now I'm up to here...

Weirder and weirder...

34Berly
Aug 4, 2017, 11:14pm Top

I am using so many of those little book darts to mark striking passages.

Do you guys have any favorites?

35PaulCranswick
Aug 5, 2017, 6:08am Top

I am also in and mine has 615 pages too.

Starting it today.

36karenmarie
Aug 5, 2017, 9:34am Top

Yay Paul! I hope this jump starts your reading mojo.

37Berly
Aug 5, 2017, 12:15pm Top

38jnwelch
Aug 5, 2017, 1:13pm Top

>33 Berly: I love that we know where you are in the book from the illustration!

I do have a favorite Nakata section that I want to share. It's not really spoilery, but just in case, it's from p.85 of mine, so most will have passed it already.

Nakata let his body relax, switched off his mind, allowing things to flow through him. This was natural for him, something he'd done ever since he was a child, without a second thought. Before long the borders of his consciousness fluttered around, just like the butterflies. Beyond those borders lay a dark abyss. Occasionally his consciousness would fly over the border and hover over that dizzying, black crevass. But Nakata wasn't afraid of the darkness or how deep it was. And why should he be? That bottomless world of darkness, that weighty silence and chaos, was an old friend, a part of him already. Nakata understood this well. In that world there was no writing, no days of the week, no scary Governor, no opera, no BMWs. No scissors, no tall hats. On the other hand, there also was no delicious eel, no tasty bean-jam buns. Everything is there, but there are no parts. Since there are no parts, there's no need to replace one thing with another. No need to remove anything, or add anything. You don't have to think about difficult things, just let yourself soak it all in. For Nakata, nothing could be better.

Occasionally, he dozed off. Even when he slept, though, his senses, ever vigilant, kept watch over the vacant lot. If something happened, if somebody came, he could wake up and do what needed to be done. The sky was covered with a flat line of gray clouds, but at least it wasn't going to rain. The cats all knew it. And so did Nakata.


This seems to help explain why Nakata interacts with the world the way he does, and connects to what happened in the clearing in the woods when he was a kid.

It also reminds me to give a tip of the hat to the translator, Philip Gabriel.

39luvamystery65
Aug 5, 2017, 2:38pm Top

I picked up a copy from the library. I must finish Moby-Dick and Framley Parsonage first. For sure MD needs to be finished before I start Kafka.

40cameling
Aug 5, 2017, 3:27pm Top

Beryl, what did you think of the mission Johnnie Walker asked of Nakata in exchange for Goma? I hated that whole part where he describes how JW went about the process of killing the cats he catnapped and when he talked about eating their wee hearts... eewwaugh!

41Berly
Aug 5, 2017, 3:29pm Top

>38 jnwelch: I remember that passage and, yes, it seems to explain Nakata a lot. But then why after we meet Johnny Walker does he lose his ability to talk to the cats? And if he lost that ability, was there another one he gained? I assume he linked with Kafka. Did Kafka gain anything? How are they linked? Mostly I am thinking out loud here and will wait for the book to answer my questions.

>39 luvamystery65: I understand wanting to finish MD first completely! Glad you have a copy of Kafka though.

42Berly
Edited: Aug 5, 2017, 3:39pm Top

Another illustration I found.


And this is where I am now.

43cameling
Aug 5, 2017, 3:35pm Top

Nice illustration of Komura Library with Oshima, Ms Saeki and Kafka. Although I have to say I picture Kafka a little slighter of frame in my mind.

44Berly
Edited: Aug 5, 2017, 3:41pm Top

>43 cameling: LOL. I think the backpack makes him look bigger. Although he does look too tall for me.

45jnwelch
Aug 5, 2017, 4:14pm Top

>40 cameling:. Me, too. It's the toughest part of the book, IMO.

>41 Berly:. I think Nakata's act of violence against Johnnie Walker caused him to lose the ability to talk to cats. Necessary, but it changed him - out of harmony.

46cameling
Aug 5, 2017, 5:07pm Top

>45 jnwelch: I agree with your spoiler proposition, Joe. I had the same thought.

47karenmarie
Aug 5, 2017, 5:15pm Top

>40 cameling: I skipped 3 of the 4 pages of the request and outcome. Yeesh.

48EBT1002
Edited: Aug 6, 2017, 12:47am Top

Oh boy, I just started reading the novel this evening. I'm only on chapter 3 but I've been introduced to The Boy Named Crow, Kafka (I think?) who is running away, and the 16 unconscious children in 1944. I'm definitely still getting my bearings but have a very positive feeling about it so far.

I love that so many people are participating!

49msf59
Aug 6, 2017, 8:14am Top



^Well, thanks to Kimmers, I have started my reread of Kafka on the Shore. I first read this in May of '07, (BLT) and it was my introduction to Murakami and it also introduced me to a new voice and a new literary universe. I am listening to it on audio this time around and it has not missed a beat, casting me immediately under his spell. The multiple narrators actually add to the dreamy, other-worldly flow. I have only listened to his NF on audio, so this is a pleasant and encouraging surprise.

50msf59
Edited: Aug 6, 2017, 8:17am Top

>27 jnwelch: I LOVE this! Nakata is amazing. Man, do I love these characters.

It is interesting, how many of his books have ties with WWII. It must have left deep, deep, marks on him and his country.

51jnwelch
Edited: Aug 6, 2017, 10:33am Top

>50 msf59: Nakata is amazing. Totally agree, Mark.

I've read that Murakami has had strong feelings that Japan hasn't taken proper responsibility for its actions in WWII, and that was behind, in particular, much of what he wrote in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. You're right - the war seems to have left deep, deep marks on him.

I'm glad you like that one in >27 jnwelch:. I found this one about where so much of this started for Kafka Tamura:

52EBT1002
Aug 6, 2017, 11:13am Top

>51 jnwelch: Such a poignant drawing.

>49 msf59: I read into the night some last night and I am also definitely under Murakami's spell. What an amazing writer!

I am also appreciating the conversation here. I'm not worried about spoilers at all as I'm really wanting to read the book with attention and thought (I can be one of those readers who gets caught up in the moment and just "goes along for the ride" without taking the time to think about what the layers are).

53RBeffa
Aug 6, 2017, 1:38pm Top

Well this looks like an exciting read. I have two books in progress or I would dive in immediately. Murakami is one of my faves. I half read Kafka quite a few years ago - I was enjoying it so much that I handed it to my daughter telling her she would love it and off it went. She did love it and became a big Murakami fan. Sometime later I got another copy but never picked it back up to finish. My bad. I can fix all that now.

>49 msf59: Mark, that is great that the audio works so well for you - a nice way to do a re-read.

I love all the comments here so far, and the illustrations people are sharing are fabulous.

54Berly
Edited: Aug 6, 2017, 2:33pm Top

>38 jnwelch: Speaking of translators...I love the quirky little expressions that Nakata has misinterpreted: Like "subsidy" and "sub city." I assume this is only in the English version. It makes me wonder what the word play was in the Japanese version?

>40 cameling: That was a very unpleasant scene with Johnny Walker and I had to make myself keep reading. But it was probably the only way JW could incite enough hate to get what he wanted, which was his own death.

>48 EBT1002: It only gets better!!

>49 msf59: So glad you and Joe are enjoying the second time through. I will have to remember to try the audio version when (and not if!) I re-read Kafka.

>51 jnwelch: Awww, that is a perfect portrayal. It makes me almost want to cry. Poor little guy.

>53 RBeffa: Wow! You are some kind of nice dad to hand this book over to your daughter when you hadn't even finished it yet! I hope you enjoy getting back to it. : )

55Berly
Edited: Aug 6, 2017, 7:26pm Top

Okay, so now I am up to here...



and here....



This is a stone, in case you can't tell, and let me just say that I love the humor in this book!

"But can't the stone be a pal and give us a hint or something?"

"...the stone doesn't say much."

"Yeah, it doesn't strike me as the talkative type...I don't imagine it's much good at swimming, either. Whatever..."

56Berly
Aug 6, 2017, 2:17pm Top

Okay...some of my favorite passages.

Ch 19 p. 181 "Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me."

Ch 21 p. 199 "Man doesn't choose fate. Fate chooses man. That's the basic worldview of Greek drama. And the sense of tragedy -- according to Aristotle -- comes, ironically enough, not from the protagonist's weak points but from his good qualities...people are drawn deeper into tragedy not by their defects but by their virtues. Sophocle's Oedipus Rex being a great example. Oedipus is drawn into tragedy not because of laziness or stupidity, but because of his courage and honesty. So an inevitable irony results...irony deepens a person, helps them mature. It's the entrance to salvation on a higher plane, to a place where you can find a more universal kind of hope."

57cameling
Aug 6, 2017, 8:03pm Top

I love Nakata and Hoshino's relationship and how Hoshino acknowledges the impact Nakata has on Hoshino's outlook on life after they leave the Komura Memorial Library carrying the bundle of files Ms Saeki asked Nakata to burn

Oh, and I've just finished the book.

I wonder if Hoshino can now talk to cats or is that cut off now the entrance stone has now been closed

58cameling
Aug 6, 2017, 8:04pm Top

>51 jnwelch: I love that illustration.

59EBT1002
Aug 6, 2017, 8:06pm Top

>55 Berly: That is a delightful quote (the conversation about the rock).

You're finished!! Well done.

60cameling
Aug 6, 2017, 8:10pm Top

>55 Berly: The tongue in cheek remarks by Hoshino and Nakata's unintentionally funny comments about the stone cracked me up.

61PaulCranswick
Aug 6, 2017, 11:56pm Top

I think that I am lagging behind most of you with the read (what's new?) but I must say I am enjoying it so far.

62Berly
Aug 7, 2017, 12:13am Top

>60 cameling: I know, right?! LOL

>61 PaulCranswick: Paul is reading again!! Go, Paul, go!

63EBT1002
Aug 7, 2017, 12:37am Top

>61 PaulCranswick: I'm behind the group, too, Paul, and I'm also enjoying it!

64PaulCranswick
Aug 7, 2017, 12:48am Top

>62 Berly: Barely merited cheerleading Kimmers! But made me smile anyway!

65arubabookwoman
Aug 7, 2017, 1:24am Top

Enjoying the conversation, and everyone's points of view. I'm getting into the book now, starting Chapter 14. I love the characters, and the writing really flows.

66Berly
Aug 7, 2017, 7:28am Top

Just found this!

Beethoven: Piano Trio No 7 "Archduke" - 1st (Rubinstein, Heifetz, Feuermann)

If you’d like to listen to Beethoven's the Archduke Trio click here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eika4rkMOGY

67Berly
Aug 7, 2017, 2:31pm Top

Here is a piece of an interview with Murakami on how he comes up with his characters like The Sheep Man, Colonel Sanders and Jack Daniels.


“Johnnie Walker has to be one of Murakami’s boldest challenges to the forces of high seriousness in the evaluation of literary art. Readers will face an equally bold challenge in later chapters with the sudden appearance of Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Colonel Sanders as a pimp with supernatural powers. This second strange creature, who appears only to the truck driver Hoshino, looks just like Colonel Sanders, with the white suit and glasses and string tie, but he explains his supernatural powers by pointing out that ‘I’m neither a Shinto god nor a Buddha nor a human being. I’m something else again – a concept.’ Murakami has latched on to these familiar – even beloved – symbols of worldwide corporate penetration and imbued them with unimaginable powers of evil, violence, and depravity. Johnnie Walker Black Label has long been a preferred gift in Japan from duty-free shops abroad, and because Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Japan all have slightly evil-looking plastic models of Colonel Sanders standing out front, the Colonel may be an even more familiar figure there than in his native country. The healthy-eating Murakami is probably conscious, too, that the Colonel’s fried chicken and other fast food, much of it exported to Japan, may be a significant contributor to American – and now Japanese – obesity. Japanese readers were shocked and confused by these enigmatic creations, said an interviewer, but Murakami draws some interesting parallels between them and his earlier writing:

‘The first character to come out of me like that was the Sheep Man in A Wild Sheep Chase. I was not planning to bring such a character onstage: he just popped out while I was writing. This was something from the world of darkness, a being that lives in the other world. Johnnie Walker and Colonel Sanders are the same kind of thing – ‘performers’ who appear from the darkness. There were a few who showed up in The Wind up Bird Chronicle, too: Boris the Manskinner, say, appears to be a realistic character, not something from the other world, but I think he’s probably the same kind of thing. Because he is there, the story is able to move off in a new direction.

While I’m writing, I’m not thinking: I don’t know if they are good or evil. I still don’t know whether the Sheep Man is good or evil, the same with Johnnie Walker. What he does is surely evil, but I don’t know how much of that is true. And Colonel Sanders? I have no idea what he’s all about. Both of them give a kick to the flow of the story, help it to move along. Rather than whether they themselves are good or evil, the really big question for me is, What kind of direction to they give the story as they help it to move along? It may be that, depending on how you look at them, Colonel Sanders and Johnny Walker are the same thing appearing with different faces. This is a very real possibility. I don’t know, though…I think the story would not have proceeded so successfully had those two icons not been present. I think, too, though, that there are a lot of people out there who can’t accept such things.’

68jnwelch
Edited: Aug 7, 2017, 3:58pm Top

>55 Berly: Perfect, Kim. I know where you were.

>66 Berly: Great! I'll be listening. I was just at that part with Hoshino in the coffee bar, and was thinking I need to track it down.

>67 Berly: Love this. Thanks for finding it. I completely understand that writing often is an experience, not a calculation. They showed up, and even he's not sure.



Nakata and Hoshino

69mayweathervsmcgregor
Aug 7, 2017, 6:27pm Top

This user has been removed as spam.

70msf59
Edited: Aug 7, 2017, 10:22pm Top

Kafka on the Shore, Song Lyrics:

"You sit at the edge of the world,
I am in a crater that is no more.
Words without letters
Standing in the shadow of the door.

The moon shines down on a sleeping lizard,
Little fish rain down from the sky.
Outside the window there are soldiers,
steeling themselves to die.

(Refrain)

Kafka sits in a chair by the shore,
Thinking of the pendulum that moves the world,
it seems.
When your heart is closed,
The shadow of the unmoving Sphinx,
Becomes a knife that pierces your dreams.

The drowning girl's fingers
Search for the entrance stone, and more.
Lifting the hem of her azure dress,
She gazes---
at Kafka on the shore. "


^More to chew on here. Thoughts?

71LovingLit
Aug 8, 2017, 3:53am Top

(boo hoo)
I'm not amongst it.

72EBT1002
Edited: Aug 8, 2017, 11:54am Top

Well, last night I met Johnnie Walker (horrid man) and this morning I experienced the raining fish. Themes are emerging but I have to say that I feel like much of the thematic arc is going over my head. Dreams? Reality? Death? Consciousness? I'm thoroughly enjoying the book but I'm not confident that I'm "getting" it all.

Oh, and I loved the part about Kafka staying at the cabin in the woods for three days. It sounded rather idyllic!

ETA: Okay, but now I read the spoiler in >67 Berly: and it helps a lot! Thanks Kim!!

73Berly
Edited: Aug 8, 2017, 2:04pm Top

>57 cameling: I finished! And I wondered the same thing about Hoshino. In fact, I would have been happy to have the story continue on for quite some time so I could puzzle out a few more answers.

>71 LovingLit: Oh, you probably have some lame excuse like RL is busy or you have too many books already. I've heard those before. : P

JK--You know I love you and respect your reading choices. Wish you could join in -- I want to read more books with you!!

>72 EBT1002: : )

74jnwelch
Aug 9, 2017, 9:15am Top

I finished Kafka on the Shore - so good! I'm a bit sorry I'm done. I could've kept reading that one for a long, long time.

Here are a few quotes I liked. I'll put them under a spoiler warning.

"And the name Kafka. I suspect Miss Saeki used it since in her mind the mysterious solitude of the boy in the picture overlapped with Kafka's fictional world. That would explain the title: a solitary soul straying by an absurd shore."

***

"Nobody's going to help me. At least no one has up until now. So I have to make it on my own. I have to get stronger - like a stray crow. That's why I gave myself the name Kafka. That's what Kafka means in Czech, you know - crow."

***

"The world would be a real mess if everyone was a genius. Somebody's got to keep watch, take care of business."

***

"When the Haydn concerto was over Hoshino asked him to play the Rubinstein-Heifetz-Feurmann version of the Archduke Trio again. WHile listening to this, he again was lost in thought. Damn it, I don't care what happens, he finally decided. I'm going to follow Mr. Nakata as long as I live. To hell with the job!"

***

"Would you drive me tomorrow morning?"

"Sure, but where do you want to go?"

"Nakata doesn't know. I'll think about it after I get in the car."

"Believe it or not," Hoshino said, "I had a feeling that's what you were going to say."

***

"Just one thing," she says, raising her head and looking me straight in the eye. "I want you to remember me. If you remember me, then I don't care if everybody else forgets."


75jnwelch
Aug 9, 2017, 9:19am Top

76weird_O
Aug 9, 2017, 9:26am Top

I finished chapter two. Just sayin'.

77Berly
Edited: Aug 9, 2017, 6:23pm Top

Random thoughts on Kafka on the Shore

Charon and Styx The two army guys escort Kafka from an entrance in the forest down to the village where ghosts of people (15-year-old Miss Saeki and the mature one) talk to him. This setup reminds me of Charon, the ferryman of the dead on the river Styx.

The links between Nakata and Miss Saeki and also the elusive sleeping lizard from the song.Nakata lives only in the present whereas Saeki lives in her past. Both were affected by the opening of the entrance and neither could find love in their lives. Both have shadows that are only half as much as normal people. Saeki dies after she lets go of her past by having her memoir notes burned by Nakata and Nakata dies shortly after he finds a memory through Miss Saeki:

"'I feel like I've known you for ages,' Miss Saeki said. 'Weren't you in the painting? A figure in the sea in the background? White pants legs rolled up, dipping your feet in the water?'

Nakata silently stood up and came over to stand in front of Miss Saeki. He laid his hard, sunburned hands on top of hers on the files. And as if listening carefully to something, he felt the warmth there filtering from her hands to his. 'Miss Saeki?'
'Yes?'
'I think I understand a little now.'
'About what?'
'What memories are. I can feel them, through your hands.'
She smiled. 'I'm glad.'

Nakata kept his hands on top of hers for a long while. Eventually Miss Saeki closed her eyes, quietly giving herself over to memories. There was no more pain there, for someone had siphoned it off forever. The circle was once again complete. She opens the door of a faraway room and finds two beautiful chords, in the shape of lizards, asleep on the wall. She gently touches them and can feel their peaceful sleep."

Earlier in the book Murakami quoted Yeats: "where there's no power to imagine, no responsibility can arise." which I take to mean the capacity for envisioning or living in the future and seeing the consequences. Then Murakami intimates through these two characters that living solely in the past or in the present can only produce incomplete lives. From this I take that we can only be alive and fully here by having all tenses of life in our thoughts and soul: past, present and future. Together Takata and Miss Saeki move into wholeness and can now let go.

I was sad that neither of them could find what they wanted in this lifetime.


78Berly
Aug 9, 2017, 9:48am Top

>75 jnwelch: Joe--Loved your quotes!! And the image. And I am very sad that the book is done. I wanted it to go on.

>76 weird_O: Yay! Bill is starting the book!



Love the symbolism of this one. Check out the butterfly on his shirt.

79karenmarie
Aug 9, 2017, 11:04am Top

I think I need to stop visiting for a while - some of the images and messages are a bit spoilerish for me.

I'm absolutely loving this book.

80Berly
Aug 9, 2017, 4:47pm Top

>79 karenmarie: Sorry! Guess we weren't being vague enough. See you back here when you're finished reading. Glad you are enjoying it.

81drneutron
Aug 9, 2017, 7:55pm Top

Ok, so Caro convinced me to join in. Picked up my copy at the library this evening.

82msf59
Aug 9, 2017, 8:46pm Top

Go Jim! Go Jim!

83Berly
Aug 9, 2017, 10:16pm Top

Yay, Jim!!

{Good job, Caro.}

84weird_O
Aug 10, 2017, 11:15pm Top

>56 Berly: Kim, you've got a great mind. Just a half-hour or so ago I highlighted the first of your favorite passages. (Ch 19 p. 181)

That's where I am right now: end of chapter 19. I've skimmed quickly over the posts, and I am trying not to allow my eyes to settle on character names and character associations that haven't yet been established (in chapters 1 through 19). I'd much rather discover for myself the new characters and the various character meet-ups. I'm usually annoyed by people who warn me: "Oh, don't tell me! Don't tell me!"

And damn! I am one of them.

85streamsong
Edited: Aug 11, 2017, 8:02am Top

>40 cameling: Just read this passage. :( If not for Joe's comment in >45 jnwelch: I think I would abandon at this point. Vivisection is not for me

86jnwelch
Aug 11, 2017, 9:13am Top

>85 streamsong: I'm glad you're continuing, Janet. It's unequivocally the hardest part, and its meaning changes as you get further in.

87jnwelch
Edited: Aug 11, 2017, 3:40pm Top





Nakata with friend

88Berly
Aug 11, 2017, 9:46am Top

>84 weird_O: LOL. Great minds think alike and all that, huh? Okay, I'll go with that. ; )

But wait! Let me tell you about this...first he... and then she... and then they...! Amazing, right? Hope you've been able to skim these posts without stumbling onto too many give-aways. ; )

>85 streamsong: Definitely the worst part of the book for me. Do keep going!!

{Joe--good job saving the day!}

>86 jnwelch: True and love the picture.

89Berly
Aug 11, 2017, 10:02am Top

90weird_O
Aug 11, 2017, 11:29am Top

>88 Berly: >56 Berly: Having gotten through chapter 21, I scrolled back to your quote from it. Bingo! I highlighted that one too.

91Berly
Aug 11, 2017, 1:34pm Top

>90 weird_O: Bill--I didn't put all my favorite quotes here; there are just too many!! Post a couple of your faves as you get further in the book. : )

92EBT1002
Edited: Aug 14, 2017, 2:00pm Top

I finished the novel. Comments from my thread:

This is an amazing work of magical realism. Peppered with profound passages, deftly weaving humor, irony, and musings on the universalities of the human experience, it is the story of two people, 15-year-old Kafka Tamura and the elderly and illiterate Nakata, whose paths are inextricably drawn toward one another.... Talking cats, raining fish, Johnnie Walker and Colonel Sanders --- literary devices that sound just downright silly --- are used by the brilliant Murakami to move the story along and provoke the reader to suspend disbelief and recognize the role that metaphor, dreams, and fantasy play in any work of literature (not to mention philosophical musings about the meaning of time, memory, and life in general). Murakami's novel comments upon itself as it tells its story. Kafka and Nakata are both lovable characters and they are surrounded by intriguing lovable characters, but none of that is the point. What is the point? It would be hard for any one reader to say.... It's one of the most satisfyingly complex novels I have ever read and I'm keeping my copy for a future reread.

93EBT1002
Aug 14, 2017, 2:01pm Top

>94 and >95 and >96 and >97
This is a great discussion of the experience of reading that gruesome scene. I think your analysis is spot on, Kim, and that Murakami is using Johnnie Walker to illustrate the brutality and senselessness of what humans will do to one another, especially in the context of war. The senselessness helped me navigate that scene as it felt very important as a quality of the action.

94cameling
Aug 14, 2017, 2:12pm Top

I second Kim's analysis of the gruesome Johnnie Walker scene. I don't feel that it was gratuitous because one thing I've always admired about Murakami's works is that he never injects gruesome or graphic scenes gratuitously. If he does include one, as he does in this book, it is meant to serve a purpose and to evince a sharp response in the reader. The scene, while horrific and I hated it, was also necessary, I think because of what followed ... Nakata's response. His inability to speak with cats symbolized the loss of his innocence.

95jnwelch
Aug 14, 2017, 2:15pm Top

>100 Well put, Caro.

96Berly
Aug 14, 2017, 6:22pm Top

I am loving this discussion!! So let me throw out another one. For those of you who have finished...Oedipus.

How did you the feel about the whole Oedipal complex as it played out here in Kafka? Did it make any difference that Kakfa has seen the younger ghost of Miss Saeki? Is he making love to her or the mature librarian? What about Saeki? Is she having sex with Kafka or the long lost love of her life? Did the sex scenes offend you more or less than the scenes in the Greek tragedy of Oedipus? Thoughts?

97RBeffa
Aug 14, 2017, 9:52pm Top

regarding Johnnie Walker, I can watch Saving Private Ryan or Gettysburg to get a graphic visual sense of the cannon fodder of war. All wars are a waste of life, even the so-called just ones. I have re-read thru the Johnnie Walker section, revisited the scene of the crime, and I'm perhaps more convinced then ever that the graphic portions did not need to be there. I guess I'm just not buying that what is done is a 'proper' analogy to war. It's more like Hannibal Lecter. That's me.

I will probably read on sometime soon.

98streamsong
Aug 15, 2017, 9:50am Top

>103 I'm still about half way through the book and since it's also my first time reading it, I totally see what you are going through. I would not have seen that specifically as a metaphor for war, either. Evil, yes. I can't imagine any thing more evil than tearing out the beating hearts of innocent victims unable to do anything to protect themselves or even scream. But as I read onward, war and unreasoning violence are major themes that are continually developed.

So in retrospect I can see it.

And wait until you discover who Johnnie Walker was! (Did you catch the clue in that chapter?)

99Berly
Aug 15, 2017, 10:32am Top

>103 Wow! You have courage, man! I don't ever want to go back and read that part again. Not even for greater clarity of the analogy.

>104 Hi! Thanks for sharing yet another perspective on this diabolical scene.

100RBeffa
Aug 15, 2017, 11:14am Top

>104 >105 I know, kinda crazy to reread that section. I re-read it primarily because after a few days pause i wondered if I had overreacted. I first re-read some of the earlier parts - trying to get a handle (and not succeeding) on what is going on - then I jumped back to Johnnie. I still have not gone to the next chapter, but I will. I didn't catch the clue who Johnnie Walker is - there is so much symbolism in here and what is real or what is a dream ...

this is a very strange book, even for Murakami.

101drneutron
Edited: Aug 15, 2017, 9:01pm Top

That's sort of where I am - trying to figure out what's dream, what's real, and what's metaphor. I'm seriously confused by the whole Johnnie Walker scene especially given the later revelation of Kafka's father's killing.

102streamsong
Edited: Aug 16, 2017, 2:10am Top

>107 whiskey dreams, my friend. (Holy crap there are a huge boatload of country songs with that title. I kind of like this one: https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/wildchild/whiskeydreams.html )

Ok, I thought this was pretty shallow thought on my part. The traumatic cat scene really reminded me of a scene in the movie 'Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom'. The incident was indelibly etched in my memory because I almost had to leave the theater when I saw it. Internally, I condemned my connection to the movie as being worthy of a college freshman essay on this novel.

But now in Chapter 26 (p 236 in my book), while looking for the entrance stone, Hoshino says "This is starting to feel like an Indiana Jones movie or something." And I burst out laughing. :)

103drneutron
Aug 16, 2017, 8:20am Top

😀

104weird_O
Aug 16, 2017, 12:00pm Top

>108 That WAS a good line! I laughed too.

So I finished the Murakami and I'm impressed, yet I can't say I loved the book. Clever characterizations and all that. I'd give it a thumb up, but not both.

105drneutron
Aug 16, 2017, 3:10pm Top

Two quotes that I really liked from about mid-way through the book (around page 244, I think)

From time immemorial, symbolism and poetry have been inseparable. Like a pirate and his rum.

Symbolism and meaning are two separate things. I think she 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 it flutters around. Artists are those who can evade the verbose.

106jnwelch
Aug 16, 2017, 5:16pm Top

>110 It may help to be a dreamer, Bill, like me. Kafka on the Shore, with all its dreamish ambiguities, is right in my wheelhouse. The weirder he gets, the more I like it.

>111 Nice, Jim. "She captured words in a dream". That fits, doesn't it.

107drneutron
Aug 16, 2017, 5:19pm Top

>112 Yup. In some sense that quote may be be the key to understanding the book.

108RBeffa
Aug 17, 2017, 4:30pm Top

One of the elements that seems universal to Murakami's stories are his references to music, usually jazz, often classical, and sometimes popular.

In my copy of Kafka, beginning on pg 110 there is a several page discussion between Oshima, the librarian, and Kafka concerning Franz Schubert and a piano sonata in D major. I eyeballed some of my classical recordings and I didn't seem to find it, but I found online what I think is the piece referred to. There is a discussion and a link to a good 11 minute chunk of it (the entire piece is close to 40 minutes):

http://www.franzpeterschubert.com/sonata_d_850.html

This isn't the first time I've gone looking for one of Murakami's musical references.

109Berly
Aug 17, 2017, 4:57pm Top

>114 Awesome! I will go take a listen. I posted a musical link to Beethoven: Piano Trio No 7 "Archduke" - 1st (Rubinstein, Heifetz, Feuermann) up in >66 Berly:. Thanks!

110RBeffa
Aug 17, 2017, 8:32pm Top

>115 I did see that but I had forgotten. I have this recording by a group called the Beaux Arts Trio that is a little easier on the ears. I had forgotten about it because I am not a big fan of classical piano works, in general. It is interesting to check his music references out nevertheless!

111luvamystery65
Aug 18, 2017, 11:35am Top

>102 streamsong: I finished the book the day before yesterday, but it has taken me this long to post my thoughts because they are so conflicted. I really couldn't express very well how I was feeling about a particular scene in the book and it shocked me that no one has mentioned it. Yesterday I googled my thought about it and I found a blogger that expressed EXACTLY what I was thinking. I'll post a thought or two in the spoilers comments and a link to her article.

I along with the rest of you really hated the Johnnie Walker scenes, but I had read some of the spoilers so I knew it was coming. I also thought the Oedipus parts were gross, but it was a prophecy and we are never really sure that it is his mom. He thinks it is so that part was yuck.

The part that absolutely ruined the book for me was the rape scene towards the end. I know it was a dream, but Kafka's attitude was selfish and defiant and he never addresses how wrong this is. Excusing this as a "just a dream" is a cop out in my book. There is no remorse or disgust for this. It bothered me. I kept going back to that it was a dream, but still, there is no discussion of how wrong this was. In Police by Jo Nesbo, Harry has a dream he is raping one of the students. He is greatly disturbed by the dream. He feels that if he can dream he is raping this woman, then he must be a rapist. There is nothing like this in Kafka. Here is the link to the blog I mentioned. She has my thoughts down perfectly.

This is an issue I take seriously. I won't give any author a pass on this. I read a lot of fiction and rape scenes are part and parcel. What I won't accept is that there isn't a consequence or acknowledgement of the wrongness. Don't care if it's just a dream.

http://restiva.livejournal.com/32000.html


This is my first Murakami. I am planning on reading The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. Kafka would have been a 4.5 or 5 star read for me, but for above.

112Berly
Aug 18, 2017, 2:47pm Top

>117 Haven't gotten much response to my Oedipus question up in >102 streamsong:, but that was going to be my lead-in to the very question you posed here. What are people's thoughts on this dream scene of Kafka's? I am trying (unsuccessfully) to write off the rape scene as a dream with no consequence. Did Kafka actually do it? No. Can we control our subconscious? No. But soon after waking there should have been at least SOME guilt, remorse, or self-reflection on the part of Kafka and Murakami should have explored that as the author. It wouldn't have to be pages and pages for me, but I wanted some acknowledgement that rape is heinous and wrong. Even in a dream. I was even more bothered that Kafka envisioned his victim as ultimately physically enjoying the rape.

Off to read the link. Thanks for your thoughts. Glad you are in for The Wind Up Bird Chronicle in November!!

113luvamystery65
Aug 18, 2017, 3:41pm Top

>118 YES Kim!!!

114jnwelch
Edited: Aug 18, 2017, 6:25pm Top

>117, >118 I think that one makes everyone uncomfortable.

To me, it does matter that it's a dream, although I would've liked more about Kafka's feeling remorseful about it. It also helped, from my POV, that Sakura had a different dream at the same time, so on her end, there was no dream of a rape. As I remember it, hers didn't have sex, and was pretty benign.

This goes a bit to Kim's Oedipus question, too. Freud came up with the "Oedipus complex", based on the old Greek story, with boys supposedly wanting to kill their father, as their rival, and have sex with their mother. And, of course, dreams and wish fulfillment in them were a big deal to Freud. So I thought Murakami was playing with that throughout - dreams, the curse, what Kafka did in his dreams. Not real, but real feelings. Missing his mother and sister, who abandoned him, and projecting on Sakura and Miss Saeki. It gets icky that he Sakura gets him off and he has sex with Miss Saeki because of those projections, but for me they're not actually his sister or mother (seems so improbable, right?).

As far as I know, the ambiguities in the book have made for a zillion interpretations. That's one of the reasons I like it so much - most great works of art should be susceptible to a lot of interpretations based on the POV of the reader/appreciator. But I was troubled by the rape dream, too. Sakura's different dream was a relief.

115souloftherose
Aug 20, 2017, 12:19pm Top

I'm also finished! This book was very much outside my comfort zone - I've only read one Murakami before (Norwegian Wood) which I loved but I remember having a more straight-forward narrative. I found Kafka to be very surreal but not unenjoyable and I especially loved the adventures of Mr Nakata and Hoshino but also the library (of course). I struggled with the cat killing, incest and the rape dream but I sense I'm not alone with that.

I don't think I really understood a lot of the things that happened. I'm still confused about the connection between Johnny Walker and Kafka's father. Also the entrance stone. Actually, I'm probably confused about most of the things that happened in this book....

>120 I think Sakura's dream was about something bad happening to Kafka but she doesn't go into details.

116RBeffa
Aug 20, 2017, 1:09pm Top

I started back on Kafka after my Johnny Walker pause. My next chapter will be 27. I found the back and forth chapters left me less focused on the story, so I have been reading 3 or 4 chapters of Kafka and then 3 or 4 of Nakata. This works much better for me - I didn't get a hint of convergence early on. I have particularly enjoyed the library happenings and characters. I'm in the camp of those who find things pretty confusing, and I'm reading this intentionally at a slow pace. There are parts in here that I absolutely love, and reading some of the comments (and some of the spoilers) above I see that others share some of my loves and dislikes.

117cameling
Aug 21, 2017, 12:17am Top

>102 streamsong: I had the feeling Kafka, after seeing the ghost of Miss Saeki fell in love with her at that age and was having sex with the younger Miss Saeki in his mind. And Miss Saeki was having sex with Kafka with her lost love in her mind.

On the rape scene, I was disturbed that Kafka, even realizing that it was a dream, didn't feel alarmed and remorseful that his subconscious self had so brutally assaulted someone he thought of at least a friend, if not perhaps his own sister ...although I think the latter to be improbable

118amanda4242
Aug 23, 2017, 3:50pm Top

I'm a little late to the party but I'm about 50 pages in and am already intrigued.

119drneutron
Aug 23, 2017, 4:20pm Top

Finished up Monday night. Wow, I'm going to be thinking about this one for a while. I'm not convinced yet that this whole thing wasn't meant to be a dream sequence.

120EBT1002
Aug 25, 2017, 1:01pm Top

Just now revisiting and reading some of the spoilers/discussion here. I'm still processing (and I'm at work so I don't have time to write much) the scenes that are in question and the questions raised here. I kind of want to go back and reread a bit.... can someone tell me what chapter the rape scene is in? Not that I relish rereading it but I feel like I glossed over it in my first read and I want to look at it again.

My reading experience with this novel, as well as with The Master and Margarita is making me think a bit about how I read. Nonjudgmental but with some curiosity and awareness of how easily I can let something to which I'm actually having a reaction just flow past me.... The best literature makes us look at ourselves as well as our world, perhaps?

121streamsong
Edited: Aug 25, 2017, 1:45pm Top

I've just read that part Ellen. It's in Chapter 39. Crow calls him out for it in Chapter 41 and then he does acknowledge wrongdoing "Sakura - my sister," I say. I shouldn't have raped her. (Italics in text) Even if it was in a dream (End text italics) "What should I do?", I ask, staring at the ground in front of me."

I know I've had inappropriate sexual dreams, but I've never felt guilt over them. Some of them are startling enough that I still remember them decades later, but I don't feel guilty. :)

I didn't take the book on my recent trip since it is from the library, and I am continuing to read very slowly until I get my new glasses. But I'm thoroughly hooked by the storytelling.

122streamsong
Aug 26, 2017, 10:16am Top

And ... finished!

I just read an interview with Murakami who said that the key to understanding the riddles (although some are never really solved) is to read the book several times. Some of that was helped along by different people seeing different aspects during the group read. Perfect book for a group to ponder!

123Berly
Aug 26, 2017, 2:34pm Top

>126 I have really enjoyed the level of discussion on this book on LT. And I totally agree that it is so easy to just keep reading rather than put a book down and think about it for a bit. I think that is what I miss about reading books in a class, the rehashing, sharing and thinking. So, thank you all for making this a better read for me!! And I could totally see reading this one again in a few years.

>127 Yay! for finishing. Dreams and sexual fantasies often go hand in hand and, no, that should not cause guilty feelings. On the other hand, I just feel like Kafka's two sentence reflection on rape wasn't enough self-reflection for me.

124Berly
Aug 26, 2017, 2:35pm Top


And here is my take on the famous fish painting in >33 Berly:. I live in Portland, where it rains a lot, so I already had painted the umbrella and I added some cheddar goldfish crackers to it. ; )

125streamsong
Aug 27, 2017, 8:34am Top

>130 Love, love, love that!

From an interview with Murakami that is posted on his web site: http://www.harukimurakami.com/q_and_a/questions-for-haruki-murakami-about-kafka-...

"the key to understanding the novel lies in reading it multiple times. This may sound self-serving, but it’s true. I know people are busy—and it depends, too, on whether they feel like doing it—but if you have the time, I suggest reading the novel more than once. Things should be clearer the second time around."

I don't plan on reading it again any time in the very near future although eventually there will be a reread in my future. I think I'll try to read some Kafka (which I don't believe I've ever done) as well as reading a bit on Shinto, and of course, more Murakami.

126souloftherose
Aug 27, 2017, 10:56am Top

>130 I love this!

127EBT1002
Aug 27, 2017, 1:35pm Top

>130 LOVE that!!!

And "I could totally see reading this one again in a few years." Yep, me too, especially as another group read.

128jnwelch
Aug 27, 2017, 3:31pm Top

>130 LOL!

>131 He's right about the multiple reads, from my point of view. I'm so glad I did a re-read with this group, and I also think it's likely I'll read it again.

129karenmarie
Aug 28, 2017, 8:02am Top

This has been a great thread so far and has enhanced my understanding and appreciation of the book.

Has there ever been an official Re-Read Group Read? The subject and very first message could identify it as a re-read and nothing would be a spoiler, so anybody who hadn't read the book would be clearly warned. I could see re-reading Kafka on the Shore again, perhaps next year and think there could be a very interesting re-read discussion thread.

130Berly
Aug 28, 2017, 6:06pm Top

>135 I know Ellen has a re-read thread, but there is no unified book or discussion. It's a great idea!

131EBT1002
Edited: Aug 28, 2017, 10:40pm Top

>135 That is a great idea. I would be up for a formally organized group re-read of Kafka in a few years!

132amanda4242
Sep 5, 2017, 2:12pm Top

I've finally finished Kafka and it just left me feeling meh. There were parts of it I truly enjoyed: the development of Nakata's and Hoshino's friendship is one of the highlights of the book, and I kind of liked Oshima's mini-lectures, but about two-thirds through it felt like everyone stopped being interesting and were only kept around to further Kafka's narrative.

I know Murakami suggests multiple readings to fully understand the book, but I wasn't left with any questions I need answered enough to bother re-reading it.

Oh, and regarding the infamous Johnnie Walker scene: while I found the scene unpleasant, it didn't have much of an impact on me since I remember a similar scene from Yukio Mishima's The Sailor Who Fell from Grace with the Sea. I guess once you've read one cat-torture scene you've read them all.

133Berly
Sep 6, 2017, 12:24am Top

>138 Hey! Sorry it wasn't a winner for you, but at least now if there are any literary references in the future, you'll be in the know. Thanks for positing your reactions and being part of the group.

134RBeffa
Sep 8, 2017, 7:50pm Top

I posted some comments on my own thread a couple weeks ago when I finished Kafka, and Kim asked me to repost here when the month's read was done. I'm a little tardy and the book is not as fresh in my mind now as it was while reading, but here goes... please post any thoughts ...

I am hoping when the month is done there is some open discussion of the book without fear of spoilers. For one thing, perhaps the major thing for me, is the death of Kafka's father. Who killed him? I don't think Nakata did. I think Kafka did. But why would that be OK? Kafka is mad because his dad ignored him or perhaps blamed him for the disappearance of his mother and sister? Why is it OK for anyone to have killed him? He was a noted, admired and famous sculptor. The surreal Johnnie Walker sequence is like a red herring to me. Nakata thinks he did it, and that JW was Kafka's father but the circumstances of JW do not jive with the police descriptions of the death of Kafka's father.

And I still don't understand what created Nakata in the first place. So much effort was expended at the start of the novel to make someone (the reader) wonder if there had been an alien possession of the children (the silver aircraft) or something equally mysterious but unless I slept through a chapter somewhere I didn't see an explanation anywhere. Towards the end I speculated that perhaps the entrance stone had been originally on the hill near the school and maybe the children all fell into limbo through it, but that was a pretty flimsy theory on my part but the best I could come up with and nothing turned out to support it.

And who was Colonel Sanders anyway - an alt version of Johnnie Walker? Just some random Japanese spirit waiting around to stir things up? I need a little more story logic!

As I said earlier, this was just left too open-ended and unresolved.

I read back over several parts of the novel while reading, esp towards the end trying to figure out these puzzles Murakami had given us. I know it would be easy to miss things but I tried to stay very attentive throughout, much moreso than I would with a typical 'normal' book. It seems clear to me that Murakami was trying to misdirect the reader at various times and I became a little tired of his too frequent use of "words can't describe it, you'll know it when you see it" sorts of things.

135amanda4242
Sep 8, 2017, 11:17pm Top

>139 Thanks! Even though I wasn't a fan of this book I liked parts of it enough to maybe try another Murakami someday.

136jnwelch
Sep 9, 2017, 3:47pm Top

>140 Lots of good questions, Ron. Part of what determines the appeal of the book, seems to me, is whether the reader enjoys the ambiguities and difficult-to-resolve mysteries. I do, but I understand those who don't, or who want definitive answers.

I'm going to put this under spoiler just in case, but here's what, to me, was a helpful analysis from an Amazon software developer named Parth Pooniwala, on the website Quora. Nakata's and Kafka's spirits are linked, and his father is mean and abusive, IMO. Anyway, here you go.

The characters are made of body and spirit.
The entrance stone, when opened, allows spirits to move between bodies - and when closed, logically does not permit this movement

Keeping these two things in mind, here's a rough chronology of events happening in book :

1. Hillside scene - kids fall unconscious. Nakata (body and mind) loses all his memory - Miss Saeki (body and mind) has opened the entrance stone to reunite with her lover - Kafka (the boy she saw on the shore).

2. Miss Seiki loses her spirit and becomes a hollow person in this world, working at the library with Oshima.

3. The body of Kafka Tamura leaves his home in search of his own spirit - which he finds at the library in Takmatsura (in the room with 15year old Miss Saeki; in effect, the spirit of Kafka Tamura is really the living spirit of Miss Seiki's lover, whose body was killed in university).

3.a. At this point, the real spirit of Kafka Tamura leaves his body and goes into Nakata. This is why Nakata and Kafka Tamura are both drawn toward each other, on parallel paths that eventually converge - on a spiritual level - when the entrance stone is closed and things are "set straight".

4. Miss Saeki's spirit remains as a 15 year old girl (and appears in the room, where the body of Kafka Tamura sleeps with her - in his "dream" world).

4a. As such, Kafka Tamua's spirit has left his body (and gone into Nakata's body) and has been replaced by the Kafka on the shore's spirit - so he sleeps with what his body thinks is his mother.

5. Kafka Tamura's father's spirit takes shape as a concept - Johnnie Walker (his father is empty, mean, a hollow body, which is why they don't get along).

5a. Nakata (Kafka T's spirit) murders the Johnnie Walker (the spirit of Kafka T's father).

5b. Kafka Tamura reclaims his living spirit in the world, retains memories and escapes the spirit forest before closing of the entrance stone.

6. Nakata is seeking to close the entrance stone in order to free the spirit of Kafka Tamura inside him - at the expense of Miss Saeki's bodily life, as her spirit will have to remain forever in the spirit world, making her body die. (When the entrance stone is closed, no longer can your body live without a spirit)

6a. As such, Nakata's body dies since his spirit is Kafka Tamura's spirit - which returns to Kafka Tamura when his bodily self overcomes the spirit inside him -Kafka on the shore- so his body returns to the bodily world, leaving the 15yr old Miss Saeki in the forest and acting as a transporter of Kafka on the shore's spirit (back to the spirit world). His body leaves to reclaim his own spirit (from Nakata).

7. Nakata's spirit goes into Hoshino (speaks to cats) and uses Hoshino's body to close the entrance stone. (Note: Nakata's spirit leaves him when he is "weak" and sleeps for long periods of time to become the concept, Colonel Sanders who guides Hoshino to complete the closing of the entrance stone mission).

137RBeffa
Sep 9, 2017, 4:19pm Top

>142 That kind of makes my head spin around Joe. It does make some sense of it all, but as I tried to indicate, I didn't see any abusive father - the little we saw was a distant father who may have spiritually abandoned the boy for any number of reasons related to the mother and sister running away. And then there remains the question of who were the mother and sister. And I am disturbed that Kafka the boy's father deserved a gruesome death at someone's hands for a angsty teen-age boy thing.

The entrance stone thing I had considered and the explanation of the origin of Nakata doesn't quite satisfy me still. It is essentially what I already had tried, unsuccessfully, to rationalize myself. And was the silver B-29/spaceship just a random red herring for the reader?

Anyway, intriguing book. I don't mind unresolved ambiguities in stories, it just seemed that this one had a megadose of it.

138jnwelch
Edited: Sep 9, 2017, 6:25pm Top

Hi, Ron. Well, I tried.

For me, it's like standing in front of a beautiful painting, with someone who doesn't see it the same way. How do I explain it's beautiful? That never works.

Johnny Walker was the main clue, for me, that his father was mean and abusive. His sculptures emerged from a horrible way of living. Similarly, to me that wouldn't be an angsty teen-age boy thing to end him. The judgment from Nakata, a Zen character who doesn't want to kill anyone, and Johnny Walker actually seeking that judgment, seals it.

I thought the scene in which Nakata is "created" was amazing, with readers invited to bring their own sense to it. Then, much later, we get an entirely different perspective on what happened from his teacher, who had hidden the "true" story for all those years. Ten people see the same event, and there always will be ten different stories about what happened.

There's definitely a megadose of ambiguities in this one. For me, that's one reason it lasts so well, and stands up to re-reads.

There is no lack of people trying to figure it out and explain it. This is another good discussion if you're interested: https://wildmurakamichase.wordpress.com/category/kafka-on-the-shore/

139drneutron
Sep 9, 2017, 7:04pm Top

Hmm, hadn't thought about the mind-body duality aspects of the plot. Wow, now I have to read it again. Damn you, Joe! 😀

140jnwelch
Sep 9, 2017, 7:21pm Top

>145 Ha! My pleasure, buddy. Maybe we need an annual group read. :-)

141Berly
Sep 9, 2017, 7:24pm Top

And now I need a glass of wine!! Thanks for posting you guys. Shall we schedule the re-read for 4-5 years out? :P

142RBeffa
Sep 9, 2017, 8:24pm Top

>144 Joe, I very much appreciate the trying! This book feels like the TV series LOST - so many strange things that it could never be wrapped up. So we play the limbo card. Actually a lot of Kafka makes more sense once you work your way through. And I had forgotten about the teacher confession late in the book. That was a big "Oh".

>147 Kim, this was definitely a great pick for a group read. It would be worth a re-read sooner than that! I need to digest a few more Murakami books in the meantime. He is always interesting.

143EBT1002
Edited: Sep 10, 2017, 1:53am Top

I think a reread is definitely in order. Joe, your analysis in >142 RBeffa: kind of made my head spin, too, although it also made me see some aspects of the novel more clearly (you know, you can't convince me that the painting is beautiful but you can draw my attention to some things I might not otherwise notice). I actually quite liked Kafka on the Shore despite so much of it going right past me.

So yes to a reread! Although I may not want to wait 4-5 years..... maybe 2-3?

144karenmarie
Sep 10, 2017, 7:37am Top

>142 RBeffa: Thanks for sharing, Joe! For some reason reading that made me think of the Japanese anime fantasy film Spirited Away. It, too, leaves one somewhat confused yet happy to have participated.

145jnwelch
Sep 10, 2017, 11:27am Top

>148 My pleasure, Ron.

Wish I could've done better. There's a 2014 book called The Forbidden Worlds of Haruki Murakami that analyzes his books, including this one. It's gotten positive reactions, so I'm going to read it. If I pick up any worthwhile insights, I'll post them.

>149 Hi, Ellen. (you know, you can't convince me that the painting is beautiful but you can draw my attention to some things I might not otherwise notice) Jeez, you're a wise one. You're right, as usual.

>150 My pleasure, Karen. So nice to see you over on my thread. I loved Spirited Away. I'm a Miyazaki nut almost as much as I'm a Murakami nut. I've got Totoros all over our house. Our kids, who tended to think I was out of my freaking mind, surprised me by loving My Neighbor Totoro, too.

146streamsong
Sep 10, 2017, 1:40pm Top

Yes, thank you Joe for the links. I had caught the mind/body duality but not fully until Kafka enters the woods and meets the soldiers. And now, having read your links, I want to read it again, too. I'm in the year or two camp for a group reread.

In the meantime, I have a copy of Oedipus Rex out from the library since I've never read it, although, like every other reader, I'm familiar with the broad themes.

It's definitely time for a rewatch of Spirited Away.

147Berly
Sep 10, 2017, 1:52pm Top

Not 4-5 years? Fine, fine, fine!! I bow to peer pressure. A re-read in the near future. : )

Honestly, this has been the most satisfying group read of a book on LT for me. I loved all the differing points of view, the in-depth comments, the added links and posts of outside analysis, the artwork. Thank you everyone!! I can't wait for the November read of The Windup Bird Chronicles!!

148benitastrnad
Sep 10, 2017, 6:38pm Top

If you go to the official Hruki Murakami page in the section called Resources there is a complete playlist of the music mentioned in the book. It even tells what chapter that particular piece of music was listed. You can listen to those particular versions of the songs as well. If I remember correctly there is a link to purchase those versions as well.

149EBT1002
Sep 11, 2017, 1:14am Top

>154 Thanks for that, Benita. I actually googled some of the musical pieces as I read and ended up purchasing a classical selection or two. :-)

150EBT1002
Edited: Sep 11, 2017, 1:16am Top

>153 Okay, Kim, I think we are on the spot for this. We need to add a reminder to our calendars for, say, two years out, to schedule a group reread. :-)

151EBT1002
Sep 11, 2017, 1:16am Top

>156 Oh, and what we know is that those two years will freaking fly.

"Life's like an hourglass glued to the table..."

152Berly
Sep 11, 2017, 2:46am Top

>154 Thank you, Benita. See? That's the kind of reader input that has been so great on this read! : )

>156 Scheduling two years out? Yikes!! Okay. I have actually added it to my calendar in 2019. Seriously!!

153jnwelch
Sep 11, 2017, 8:47am Top

I was listening again to that Beethoven piece, Archduke Trio, just yesterday.

154benitastrnad
Sep 11, 2017, 10:45am Top

Here is the direct link to the music play list from Kafka.

http://www.harukimurakami.com/resource_category/playlist/kafka-on-the-shore

I do have to say that I liked the old Murakami web site better than this one. The old one used a blue, grey, and black theme. It has neat music that started playing as soon as you opened the web site. The music was sort of new agey and sort of jazzy. Just the perfect combination for Murakami stuff. There was a straight line that ran across the page about a third of the way down from the top, and if you watched a cat walked from the left side to the right side, then sat down. Soon it disappeared and a different colored cat started in from the left to the right. Sometimes there were two cats. It was so cool. It was on this web site that I first discovered the play list for the music for all of the books he has published.

I don't like that the new site goes directly to iTunes, but that is the world in which we now live.

Whenever I read one of his titles I generally check out this playlist. I do so just to get a handle on what music is in the novel. Music is very important to Murakami and I read in an interview with him that he thinks that American's are letting their musical heritage go, across all genres. He believes that we, as a nation, are neglecting our future because of a lack of education about music. He said that music is as important as reading and people should be knowledgeable about it.

155RBeffa
Sep 11, 2017, 11:16am Top

>160 rats! when did this new site show up? I liked the old one as well and hadn't visited for quite a bit I guess. My McAfee hollers at me about visiting the new site and won't let me go in.

156benitastrnad
Sep 11, 2017, 11:38am Top

#161
I am not sure when it changed. I read Hard-Boiled Wonderland last spring and when I went to look up something about it, I noticed that the site had changed.

157EBT1002
Sep 11, 2017, 2:56pm Top

>158 "I have actually added it to my calendar in 2019." Excellent. Did you put it on a particular date (I will do the same)?

>160 Thanks, Benita!

158Berly
Sep 11, 2017, 5:29pm Top

My reminder says: Reminder to talk to Ellen about re-read of Kafka on the Shore week of 7/15 -- post thread??
: )

159karenmarie
Sep 11, 2017, 6:53pm Top

Yay! A re-read in 2019. It will be fun to see who participates.

160streamsong
Sep 11, 2017, 8:46pm Top

(It will be fun to see who remembers)

161EBT1002
Sep 11, 2017, 10:50pm Top

>166 LOL

162karenmarie
Sep 12, 2017, 10:13am Top

>166 Well, that too. *smile*

I've made a note in my desk calendar on December 18 (Lett's of London, been using them for 27 years now) that I will transfer to my 2018 calendar and then to my 2019 calendar.

163darryldenicola
Sep 18, 2017, 5:09pm Top

This user has been removed as spam.

164PaulCranswick
Nov 18, 2017, 8:24pm Top

I am nothing if not persistent.

Kafka has been sent to the shore on 18 November!

165Berly
Nov 19, 2017, 2:57pm Top

Paul--Yay!! For perseverance!!! I hope you enjoyed it.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2017

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