Kafka on The Shore – Haruki Murakami

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Kafka on The Shore

(I want my time back)

Goodreads Wikipedia

Franz Kafka is one of my favorite authors, but also, in my opinion, a bit difficult to read. After finishing the Metamorphosis I deeply regretted the time I spent reading such a boring book. Until a few days later when it suddenly hit me how amazing the book and Franz Kafka really are. I proceeded reading all of his books and they all had that same ‘delayed gratification’ effect.

I read a few short stories and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running  by Haruki Murakami, before I decided to give Kafka on The Shore a try. The famous author, the positive reviews and the fact that the title of the book has the name of my favorite author increased my expectations of the book. However, I ended up deeply disappointed. Kafka on The Shore was incredibly boring and annoying to read and it had the opposite of a ‘delayed gratification’ effect. As time goes by my hate towards this book only grows…

Kafka on The Shore was so boring that it took me about an year to finish. It left a lingering feeling of pain, emptiness and dullness, which made me quit Murakami forever. To start with, all the characters in the book have a two-dimensional feeling to them. I never cared about any of the characters, not even the kind, crazy, old, cat man. Moreover, at times the book feels absurd just for the sake of being absurd. The author tries really hard to give us the feeling of “dream-logic” but comes no near to the brilliant way that Kafka does it…

Many of you have probably experienced waking up after a dream only to realize that you were following some weird “dream laws” in your sleep? And these laws were all incredibly absurd, yet you felt the urge to abide by them. Then you wake up and wonder how come you never realized that you were dreaming… And how come you didn’t have the will to break free from the grip of that dream and shape your dream world the way you want it to be==> Reading Franz Kafka feels the same way. You become more aware of the absurd rules and laws that you follow in your real, waking life, which are often a product of social expectations, fear and upbringing. Franz Kafka made me more aware of who I am and freed me in many ways…

We then take a look at the ‘dream-logic’ in ‘Kafka on the shore’. I can best describe it as being aware that you are asleep and fully conscious of the absurdity of your dreams but still stuck in them until you wake up. Or to put it another way, fully aware of how boring the book is but stuck reading it…

If anyone found meaning and derived value from this book please share in the comments below. I am curious about the way you see it.

Quotes

“You have to look!” Johnnie Walker commanded. “That’s another one of our rules. Closing your eyes isn’t going to change anything. Nothing’s going to disappear just because you can’t see what’s going on. In fact, things will be even worse the next time you open your eyes. That’s the kind of world we live in, Mr. Nakata. Keep your eyes wide open. Only a coward closes his eyes. Closing your eyes and plugging up your ears won’t make time stand still.”

“Narrow minds devoid of imagination. Intolerance, theories cut off from reality, empty terminology, usurped ideals, inflexible systems. Those are the things that really frighten me. What I absolutely fear and loathe.”

“That’s fine. Look—what I’m getting at is no matter who or what you’re dealing with, people build up meaning between themselves and the things around them. The important thing is whether this comes about naturally or not. Being bright has nothing to do with it. What matters is that you see things with your own eyes.”

“”That’s why I gave myself the name Kafka. That’s what Kafka means in Czech, you know—crow.” “Hmm,” she says, mildly impressed. “So you’re Crow.” “That’s right,” I say. That’s right, the boy named Crow says. “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 principle.” “Strength itself becomes your morality.” Miss Saeki smiles. “You catch on quickly.” “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 that 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 all to make your own.””

“”Myoga, you’re not very bright, so you don’t have to learn any sutras. Instead, I’d like you to sit at the entrance and polish everybody’s shoes.” Myoga was an obedient guy, so he didn’t tell his master to go screw himself. So for ten years, twenty years, he diligently polished everybody’s shoes. Then one day he achieved enlightenment and became one of the greatest of all the Buddha’s followers. That’s a story Hoshino always remembered, because he’d thought that had to be the crappiest kind of life, polishing shoes for decades. You gotta be kidding, he thought. But when he considered it now, the story started to take on a different undertone. Life’s crappy, no matter how you cut it. He just hadn’t understood that when he was little.”

 

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Factotum – Charles Bukowski

factotum

Factotum

(This book was painful to read)

A guy in the USA going through shitty jobs, drinking, sex and complaining that women are sluts. His dream is to become a writer, when in reality he can’t hold the easiest job for more than a few months.

I did not enjoy reading this book. It was the first book I’ve read written by Bukowski and will probably be the last. His writing style is just too painful…

The main character is a weak man. A man without a backbone. A man full of desires and ambitions and no will power to achieve anything. Instead, he chooses a life of whining and binge drinking. He reminds me of a dumber version of the protagonist from the Catcher in The Rye.

This book paints a picture of the person you should never become.

Quotes

“I was a man who thrived on solitude; without it I was like another man without food or water. Each day without solitude weakened me. I took no pride in my solitude; but I was dependent on it. The darkness of the room was like sunlight to me.”

“Yes, your attitude. You think we didn’t notice it?” That’s when I first learned that it wasn’t enough to just do your job, you had to have an interest in it, even a passion for it.

“I wasn’t all that clever. It was more instinct than anything else. I always started a job with the feeling that I’d soon quit or be fired, and this gave me a relaxed manner that was mistaken for intelligence or some secret power.”

“When I went to the Yellow Cab Company I passed the Cancer Building and I remembered that there were worse things than looking for a job you didn’t want. I went in and it seemed easy enough, the same old forms, questions, etc.”

“I didn’t like parties. I didn’t know how to dance and people frightened me, especially people at parties. They attempted to be sexy and gay and witty and although they hoped they were good at it, they weren’t. They were bad at it. Their trying so hard only made it worse.”

World War Z – Max Brooks

world_war_z_book_coverWorld War Z
(
Shit)

Max Brooks is simply not a good writer. The book is supposed to be a collection of the stories of various survivors spread across the world. And no matter what nationality, gender or personality the survivors have, they all sound like the same person.

I have no idea how this book made it so far… it’s plain stupid.

Can someone please recommend a good zombie book?

Quotes

Do you understand economics? I mean big-time, prewar, global capitalism. Do you get how it worked? I don’t, and anyone who says they do is full of shit. There are no rules, no scientific absolutes. You win, you lose, it’s a total crapshoot. The only rule that ever made sense to me I learned from a history, not an economics, professor at Wharton. “Fear,” he used to say, “fear is the most valuable commodity in the universe.” That blew me away. “Turn on the TV,” he’d say. “What are you seeing? People selling their products? No. People selling the fear of you having to live without their products.” Fuckin’ A, was he right. Fear of aging, fear of loneliness, fear of poverty, fear of failure. Fear is the most basic emotion we have. Fear is primal. Fear sells. That was my mantra. “Fear sells.”

 

Now, I am a good soldier, but I am also a West German. You understand the difference? In the East, they were told that they were not responsible for the atrocities of the Second World War, that as good communists, they were just as much victims of Hitler as anyone else. You understand why the skinheads and proto-fascists were mainly in the East? They did not feel the responsibility of the past, not like we did in the West. We were taught since birth to bear the burden of our grandfathers’ shame. We were taught that, even if we wore a uniform, that our first sworn duty was to our conscience, no matter what the consequences.