So hooked by audio that I have to read books aloud. *If my reviews help, please let me know.
"The first thing you must know about me is that is I am colossally fat. I eat what I want, and furthermore, I eat whenever I want...and I do feel very shy and sort of encassed in something, as if I were a cello, or an expensive gun..." so the character Arthur writes about himself in an unflinching confessional letter to a former love whom he has not seen for decades..when he was merely "plump." The self-described grossly obese Arthur is given a distinguished and compassionate voice by narrator Keith Szarabajka, in a remarkable performance that brings real heart and soul to this wretched lonely human being.
On the opposite end of the physical scale is Kel: tall, blonde, high school heartthrob that leaves his letter jacket on the shoulders of his girlfriend, then drives off in his BFF's BMW. But, Kel crosses the tracks and goes to a run down home, to a mother he disdains for her weaknesses; she is passed out on a sofa wearing a holey T-shirt that reads: It's 5:00 Somewhere! His father walked out when he was 4--he is so sure that his father is the source of his own tall good looks, his extraordinary athleticism, and all that is good in himself; while Mom represents imaginary illnesses, excuses, failures, and all he deems repellent. Also in this wonderful cast is Yolanda, the tiny pregnant Latino cleaning girl, whose sequined-sneakered feet dangle over the sofa when she breaks to watch her favorite soap on TV, and who yells at the honking cars during a huffing Artur's first arduous walk in years, "Hey! I'm pregnant here!"
Heft is a superb character-driven novel that had me in tears more than once. From Arthur's apprehensive yet straighforward introduction, to Kel's self-aware confessions of sorrow and regret, and the streetsmart directness of sassy Yolanda--- Moore has written a bittersweet intersection masterpiece that will etch itself in your heart. With such a significant novel...it is hard to conform to M. Twain's advice: "when you catch an adjective, kill it!" With apologies to Twain...Heft is elegant, beautiful, unforgettable, wise, tender, hopeful, humble, and what it is to be HUMAN; one of my all time top picks. I hope you enjoy this one.
In Haruki Murakami's own words:
"It's all pointless--assuming you try to find a point to it." Kafka on the Shore
"It's not that meaning cannot be explained. But there are certain meanings that are lost forever the moment they are explained in words." 1Q84
I read this book last year, my first HM read, which I jumped into with no knowledge of the author, and having read no reviews of the book at all. Since then I have read several of Murakami books, and not because I am an enthusiastic fan at all--I actually found myself a little disturbed by Kafka on the Shore. I was bothered by the wierd sexuality, the blurry boundaries and constructs, the pointless ramblings, the silliness I thought bordered on insult to the reader. I read interviews Murakami had done, I read about his background, I read very dissected critiques by scholars of Murakami books, and still held on to a bit of repulsion towards Murakami's books. But...I kept reading his books! I was drawn to them; they haunted me, they stayed with me, persistently colored my mind.
When 1Q84 was released, I bought it impulsively,then wondered why. I realized that Murakami writes for the reader; I understood that what brought me back time and time again to HM was the fact that somewhere in me, I knew that in HM's books I was in the presence of genius. I could read/listen to HM and drift through a dream, like closing my eyes and floating on a raft in the pool, I didn't need to make sense of the journey--I just enjoyed it.
I relate this only to try to explain the experience I had with Kafka on the Shore, It was in many ways magical and lasting. I'm not sure I loved it, but it captured me. I could compare it to the other books of his but I will not because it has been done--I will leave you with my experience and say that Murakami, like any author, is not for everyone--just like Beethoven or Mozart are not for everyone--but their genius cannot be argued. I am looking forward to listening to 1Q84--just picking the right time to be consummed. If you are compelled to find meaning in every event, to right each word with your own understanding, read again the top 2 quotes by Murakami...you may "find" something that isn't even really there at all.
My sister, a librarian and crazy mad Vonnegut fan (when he passed away she actually wrote the eulogy for her town's local newspaper), said to me when she suggested this book, that Mother Night is probably Vonnegut's most underappreciated novel, while Vonnegut himself considered it one of his best. His other personal favorites?: Slaughterhouse 5, and Cat's Cradle. She is a librarian with a PhD, so I don't argue literature with her. Having finally read this, I have to agree with my little sis, and say this is my second favorite Vonnegut book.
He backs into this read, starting the story with the moral: "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be." Howard Campbell proceeds to narrate his story from inside an Israeli jail cell, where he is about to be tried for war crimes, "I am an American by birth, a Nazi by reputation, and a nationless person by inclination." The book examines moral ambiguity, and in true Vonnegut style, provokes the reader to a powerful, and emotional indictment against the crimes of complacency, apathy, and omission. Even from the antagonist himself we get a sense of ambiguity as we question his reliability; so apathetic about his own integrity, does anything he says have validity. Towards the ending of his story, and possibly his life, I had the sense that Howard finally looked into himself, called out for answers, and realized he heard only empty echoes--the loneliness is painful and devastating.
Vonnegut's hallmark nonchalance appears, but as the sinister version of nonchalance, and his usual gallows humor seems to question whether it is too dark to allow any brevity. So what is there to enjoy in a story that I have described as so bleak? The answer is the magic of Vonnegut's writing -- to feel yourself respond to the quiet evil you experience in this story -- it is hearing your own conscience speaking back to you, affirming your integrity as Vonnegut intends. This may be his most contemplative book--it will definitely exercise your own morality, even leave you with a little after-burn. "All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing"... *so it goes,* ...always. Top rate production, as is always my experience with the Audible Vanguard series. You may not love this like S5 or CC, but it is a must for fans of Vonnegut.