14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
You've got some thinking to do!,
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This review is from: Kafka On The Shore (Vintage Magic) (Mass Market Paperback)
I think what divides people about this book is perhaps the amount of work the reader has to do. I know that sounds instantly like reading this book is a chore - but if so many people are prepared to come up with their own theories on something like the TV series Lost, then doing a little outside thinking on this novel shouldn't be such a tall order. I note a lot of reviewers mention they keep trying to get their friends to read it - I think this is because this novel (and most of his work) invites discussion and scrutiny to spot all the threads. You keep spotting little things that hint at other things, or references that contrast with what's happening. It's full of mindgames and contradictions that get better the more you play with them.
For example, it's been mentioned on the reviews that Nakata, the older man is the more 'attractive' character of the two, which I actually think is rather the point, and a neat little trick - Nakata is the character who in fact *has* no emotions, whereas Kafka spouts out everything he feels but takes almost the whole novel to slowly come to terms with adulthood, loss and responsibility - and then finally become an attractive character.
Equally, the crux of the plot - the patricide, the mother love and sister love - are entirely ambiguous. It's done so that you question where the line between what you do and what you think is blurred beyond recognition. If you believe you're doing something, you ascribe a symbolism to it, and here, events which would otherwise blast away taboos in the most crude way, are dealt with with an incredibly deft hand. You, as the reader, have to decide whether they actually happen or not. And even then, you have to decide whether a real event is necessary if a psychological event fills in the same job. Personally, I have theories on all of the loose ends and it's an incredibly satisfying feeling to have been given such a treat. (I have to say that doesnt mean I can explain why, for example, Nakata can make it rain leeches...that just gets filed under 'twisted humour.')
And I've persuaded five of my friends to buy it, on pain of incessant nagging. I'm proud of that. Hmm. I should get a commission.