Hello, my darlings! I will be sharing two things with you today: a book review and an outfit post. This cozy outfit proposal features two printed items: a printed scarf and a skirt. The bluish scarf was a gift from a friend and I like how it looks with this camel coat (another gifted item). The wool/silk printed skirt is old, a creation from fashion house Edi. You had a change of seeing this unique floral print on the blog here , here and here. Under the camel coat I have worn this white blouse and this red blazer. I completed the outfit with a red beanie and high brown boots. It has gotten colder in Croatia even on the shore. Speaking of the shore, Kafka on the Shore is the novel I will be reviewing today.
MURAKAMI, A WRITER THAT REMINDS ME OF A CAT
Murakami is a writer whom most readers either love or dislike. Options are rather divided when it comes to Murakami, some say he is genius, other claim all his novels are alike. Do you know of whom does Murakami reminds me? Of a cat! He seems to always take this time, does things his own way, doesn't care about the reader's expectations and remains always a bit mysterious. Just like our feline friends, Murakami is not for everyone. Either you are a cat person, or you're not. Either you like his style of writing or you don't. There is a third group of readers as well, the kind that likes his novels initially, but grows tired of his style of reading. I can understand them all, the readers who enjoy his novels immensely, those who struggle to make sense of his writing and those who grew tired of it after a while. As for myself, well I guess, I'm just a cat person.
DISTINCT PATTERNS IN MURAKAMI'S WRITING ARE QUITE PRESENT IN KAFKA ON THE SHORE
Kafka on the Shore is in many ways a typical Murakami novel. It contains parallel narratives, long philosophical passages (mostly in a form of monologues and dialogues), warped time, numerous music and literature references, talking cats and dream sequences. Not to say that if you have read one Murakami novel, you have read them all, for I find them all worthy in their own way (but mostly because I like his writing style). Nevertheless, it is worth noting that this writer does employ an unique and recognizable writing style that might feel repetitive or even predictable to some. Once you have read quite a bit of Murakami, it will be easy for you to notice distinct patterns in his writing. Not that I'm complaining. I've been a fan of his writing for years. I find his prose mesmerizing and powerful and only occasionally a bit repetitive and overwhelming.
A WRITER WHO DOESN'T FOLLOW THE CONVENTIONS OF A TYPICAL NOVEL BUT EXCELS AT PHILOSOPHICAL PASSAGES AND LYRICAL PROSE
I would say that my feelings for Murakami's writing are similar to what I feel towards cats and coffee- an intense liking. You could say that his novels are something I can never get enough of. I don't care if his plot are sometimes clumsy, convenient or/and illogical (not referring to surreal elements obviously, I don't expect logic from that, just from the regular parts), because you know his books would be worth reading for those wonderfully philosophical passages alone. If there weren't for the philosophy and wisdom that can be found in them, his books would be worth reading just for the lyrical prose or the brilliant culture references. What I'm trying to say is that one can really learn a thing or two by reading his books. I get that Murakami is not everyone's cup of tea, though. If you like high paced novels filled with active protagonists, without digressions but with logical plots twists and written in a simple narrative style, well then Murakami is NOT for you. I'm a reader that loves ambiguity but I must admit that Murakami's ambiguity is at times a bit too much even for me. I don't see how someone who hates ambiguity and magic realism could like him at all.
I borrowed Kafka on the Shore from the library a few days ago and read it in one setting. I found it absolutely mesmerizing and have basically eaten both lunch and dinner with a book in hand. What makes this novel different from the other Murakami's books I read? Hm, there seems to be more of a Oedipus motif in this one. Incest is a big part of this novel and even if it is not certain has it really happened or not (much of it remains a mystery), it is definitely present. If that particular subject is something you can't bear yourself to read about, this is not a book for you. Sexuality is definitely a part of Murakami's writing, but in this one there is more of a focus on the Oedipus complex (albeit it is not the central theme). In addition, this novel has a number of references to Greek tragedies. Now, references to Western literature are always present in Murakami's writing, but I don't recall the Greek tragedies being as important to other novels as they were for this one. Coming back to the Oedipus myth, I found this passage from an interview with Murakami very interesting because he seems to say that the Oedipus myth was not something he had in mind when he set to writing:
What made you want to retell the Oedipus myth? Did you have a plan to do this when you started Kafka On The Shore or did it come about during the writing?
The Oedipus myth is just one of several motifs and isn’t necessarily the central element in the novel. From the start I planned to write about about a fifteen-year-old boy who runs away from his sinister father and sets off on a journey in search of his mother. This naturally linked up with the Oedipus myth. But as I recall, I didn’t have that myth in mind at the beginning. Myths are the prototype for all stories. When we write a story on our own it can’t help but link up with all sorts of myths. Myths are like a reservoir containing every story there is.
I do believe that Murakami didn't plan to write another Oedipus myth, but it is hard to escape the similarities both plot wise and style wise. Whether we like it or not, our sexual development from a psychological perspective is always under the influence of parental figures. The Oedipus complex is just a normal phase of a child's development, or so the psychologist say. It is not a disease or a disorder, it's just a phase. However, when a child lacks a parental figure or has issues with it (as our protagonist does), then things get more complicated. What I want to say is that while Murakami's writing does expand to this myth, it is also because myths are a big part of who we are as humans and as such reflect our psychological and emotional being. The whole Oedipus motif isn't perhaps central to this novel but it is an important part of it as are the themes of growing up, sexuality, isolation and so on. Isolation and individuality are perhaps more important as motifs then the Oedipus complex, but perhaps we could say that they all tie together. How to keep one's individuality but still develop meaningful relationships? How to let go of past tragedies and keep one's sanity in this crazy violent world? How to escape isolation in the modern world? Those are the questions that I feel this novel asks and perhaps even tries to answer.
AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS AND THE NARRATOR THAT NAMES HIMSELF AFTER KAFKA, ONE OF MURAKAMI'S FAVOURITE WRITERS
Murakami often included autobiographical details in his writing. Murakami's main characters always drink a lot of coffee, love cats, listen to jazz or/and classical music, read a lot of books and watch a lot of classical films. Refrences to music, films and literature always take a lot of space in Murakami's novels. This book takes it a step further by refrencing Kafka himself in the novel. The protagonist of this novel is named after Kafka (or rather named himself after Kafka). Murakami admits to his love for this author. However, Murakami never tries to copy Kafka and that's something worth acknowledging. There are references to Kafka's works but also to other works of literature so if you're expecting this book to be all about Kafka, it is not. There is so much more I could say about this novel, but my review has to end sooner or later and this seems as a good place to move towards ending it as any.
What follows is another passage from Murakami's interview that caught my eye:
...Before “postmodernism” became a buzzword, Franz Kafka explored that particular condition of isolation associated with a post-nuclear, new-millennium world. Did you name your protagonist after him to draw out these themes, or were there other reasons?
It goes without saying that Kafka is one of my very favorite writers. But I don’t think my novels or characters are directly influenced by him. What I mean is, Kafka’s fictional world is already so complete that trying to follow in his steps is not just pointless, but quite risky, too. What I see myself doing, rather, is writing novels where, in my own way, I dismantle the fictional world of Kafka that itself dismantled the existing novelistic system. One could view this as a kind of homage to Kafka, I suppose. To tell the truth, I don’t really have a firm grasp of what’s meant by postmodernism, but I do have the sense that what I’m trying to do is slightly different. At any rate, what I’d like to be is a unique writer who’s different from everybody else. I want to be a writer who tells stories unlike other writers’.
*SOURCE FOR THE INTERVIEW WITH MURAKAMI THAT I QUOTED:
To sum things about, Murakami is a writer I don't know how to go about recommending because he has a very unique writing style that doesn't appeal to everyone. Perhaps it is best said that his novels are a bit like music (particularly jazz) and cats (particularly Siamese cats), you have to take your time with them. I like to read Murakami when I have more free time on my hands, for example on weekend or during a holidays. His slow narrative is not what you usually expect in a novel and might be frustrating to some, but you might enjoy it if you like poetical and philosophical writing.
As always, thank you for reading and commenting. Do you like cats? Would you read a novel that features talking cats or do you prefer your fiction to be less surreal? Have you read anything by Murakami? Do you like this styling? Do you like floral print? Happy Monday! Have a lovely start of the week.