Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Murakami & his gratuitous love sauce landscaping

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I'm plowing through Murakami's 467 page Kafka on the Shore, a book I received for my birthday, January of 2010, by a great friend, who's trustworthy for his good taste...aside for his unyielding love of jam bands. The fact is: I feel as though I didn't read enough this year.

The first 70 pages I got through in three sitting at various times of the day at home between things and things, but today I made a mad sprint from 70-300, on my sunny doorstep, at a Silverlake coffee shop, and now in bed, I take this breather before a final sprint, 167 pages towards the finish line before midnight.

I'm not reading particularly fast or slow, but it's a pace that's honest enough to catch all the details without memorizing. I could ace a test on this book anytime within two weeks of tomorrow, but after two weeks the memories: names, events, will atrophy and recede to make room for new information, especially if it's practical or rehashed repeatedly.

The book itself is good enough for the effort, though a bit more verbose with dialog and details than necessary. The dialogue's pretty candid with vivid descriptions of male genitalia being washed and such, too, but I see now it's to emphasize the deficiencies of a vagina-bearing hermaphrodite, who plays an important role in the story later.

This is my second Murakami after Norwegian Wood, which was also a gift, housewarming, from almost exactly a year before in New York. What I remember most about Norwegian Wood was that it had a lot of sex in it, and longing, or more specifically--flowery prose about sex and longing, and going the distance.

Kafka on the Shore has a few gratuitous sex scenes in it, too, though the prose is much less flowery for the most part. This makes me wonder about Murakami as a person. Does he get laid? Is he impotent? Does he think these explicit sex scenes are necessary for the viscosity of the story? Is it a gimmick to make the story more interesting?

For such straightforward and ethically driven characters with hearts of gold, it's surprising how Murakami's sex scenes have a left-field sense of embellishment. But maybe that's the point.

It's 10:40, I'd better get back to it if I'm going to finish by midnight. So far the 15-year-old protagonist thinks he might've murdered his father in a subconscious, ghostlike state, indignant for a curse which makes it impossible to resist seducing his could-be 50+year-old mother/boss in a foreign city. And the hermaphrodite? Probably his long-lost sister.
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