Kafka on the Shore

Kafka on the Shore - Philip Gabriel, Haruki Murakami I want to like Murakami. My writing and reading friends keep on telling me how good he is. First they recommend this title, then that. I try them out, making a genuine effort to see what all of the fuss is about. I respect my friends' opinions. 'Norwegian Wood' is the best of them that I've read so far - a charmingly elegiac book. This, on the other hand...

I read the whole book and it felt very long indeed. There were parts of it that I enjoyed. The fantasy sequence in the 'other world' drew me in and the rainstorm of fish was a nice touch. Overall, though, I found it pretentious and rather silly. A book that is so heavy on dialogue needs to make its characters speak more convincingly. Maybe it's the translation (he said, being charitable). There were sections that began with a character saying something along the lines of, 'Tchaikovsky was a genius, right?', followed by a five-page high school essay on the subject. These sections were patronising and poorly executed. And the main character felt like a weaker rehash of the guy from 'Norwegian Wood'. He was the straight man to a host of pantomime characters, all of whom, to me, were entirely unbelievable. Any book that references Kafka has to be better than this. I must be missing something, I think.

I'm told that I should read 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle'. On this evidence, I'm not sure that I can bring myself to do so.