I recently finished reading Haruki Murakami's Kafka On The Shore. I began the novel in an attempt to start a book club within my team here in Gothenburg, but the book's strange cover, summary, and themes scared a few of my teammates away. I, on the other hand, was instantly enthralled. I haven't been submersed in a true story in a long while, and it felt important to be living in two worlds temporarily.
I could not do a summary justice or even accurately express my feelings about it. The only way I can describe it is: provocative and paradoxically spellbinding. Murakami has a way of being so simple, and yet every word seems both loaded and symbolic. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
"Miss Saeki looks at me for a while, and the smile fades away. 'Picture a bird perched on a thin branch,' she says. 'The branch sways in the wind, and each time this happens the bird's field of vision shifts. You know what I mean?'
'When that happens, how do you think the bird adjusts?'
I shake my head. 'I dont know.'
'It bobs its head up and down, making up for the sway of the branch. Take a good look at birds next time it's windy. I spend a lot of time looking out that window. Don't you think that kind of life would be exhausting? Always shifting your head every time the branch you're on sways.'"
"Perhaps most people in the world aren't trying to be free, Kafka. They just think they are. It's all an illusion. If they really were set free, most people would be in a real pickle. You'd better remember that. People actually prefer not being free."
"'There must be a limit to that kind of lifestyle, though,' she says. 'You can't use that strength as a protective wall around you. There's always going to be something stronger that can overcome your fortress. At least in theory.'
'The strength I'm looking for isn't the kind where you win or lose. I'm not after a wall that'll repel power coming from outside. What I want is the kind of strength to be able to absorb outside power, to stand up to it. The strength to quietly endure things -- unfairness, misfortune, sadness, mistakes, misunderstandings.'
'That's got to be the most difficult strength of allt o make your own.'"