tripping the life unbalanced

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

#22. Kafka On The Shore

I must admit, I am hitting a snag with my 50 book challenge. I have about 5 or 6 titles on my bedside table that have been waiting for my attention. They are almost all award-winning novels, by renowned authors. I was getting about half-way through all of them, and then I would put them down and going on to the next. Not engaging or fully immersed in any of them. Which is weird for me, as I love to feel absorbed by and completely addicted to a novel. I finally made a deal with myself and hunkered down to finish one of them. Which is how we come to #22 on my list - Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami. On many of the must-read lists of 2005, this novel managed to hold my interest long enough to dive in with both feet.

I won't go into the plot of this novel, because truly its plot is not that important. It's the tone, rather, that moves this book along. Filled with dream-like narrative, Kafka On the Shore follows two people whose lives intertwine in a sometimes paranormal - and downright freaky - story. And while I can appreciate a picnic of metaphors as much as the next girl, I also found myself growing tired of the falling fish, ghosts, and magic stones that hijack this book. I found myself aching for the STORY in it all - the beginning, the middle, the end. The dramatic arc and then the explanation at the end.

In the television world, we are always talking about the "reveal" in the story: the part of the half-hour lifestyle series where the people walk into their newly-made over living rooms, exclaiming "oh my GAWD, look at the wainscoting Henry!" It's the part of the story when the audience is rewarded for sticking it out. And that's exactly the part of this story that I thought was missing - the reveal. Where's my wrap-up, my sum-up, my clap on the back for making it through achingly-long passages about a mysterious stone and whether or not the two main characters are connected? Maybe I've become lazy in my expectations of a story, but I want the linear story dammnit! Maybe I've become one of those people I hated in university - the ones who rolled their eyes in literary theory class and asked the professor if we could just read The Great Gatsby just one more time "'cause at least it's an easy story to understand..."

Other than the lack of a solid story, however, this novel is one of beauty and skill. Like a really long poem that you can read in bits at a time, savouring each word. Now if only I had the patience to stick around...


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