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.
"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.
I've watched over the months as the reviews for this one came in. You see five more stars from the corner of your eye and think, "don't do it...you know how disappointed you get when it doesn't meet your expectations." But, reviewers I watch and trust really liked this. I caved in and downloaded it, the whole while with those oh-my-god-what-have-I-done blues.
This needs to be a series.
Hildy Good is the kind of sassy smart character you love -- even when she is passed out on her cellar floor. Leary has written an engaging funny book with a robust main character that just happens to be an alcoholic, whom everyone thinks is a successful graduate of AA. The author doesn't minimize the condition at all, rather she keeps Hildy human and dimensional, making those moments of drunkenness all the more sad and pitiful. She portrays the thinking process of an alcoholic wonderfully; you don't realize how truly destructive this funny woman is until she is raging out of control.
The Good House is one of those books with atmosphere; you feel immersed in the quaint little New England town. Hildy introduces the characters, mostly by their more scandalous moments, and they become neighbors. Leary develops the characters as the story proceeds, giving them a depth and personality you don't expect. But then, I didn't expect most of this story! It's funny, it's sobering, it's surprising, it's a great choice, and Mary Beth Hurt brings Hildy to life perfectly.