I consider Haruki Muramaki as my favorite author that’s not named F. Sionil Jose. I felt that Norwegian Wood is his Catcher in the Rye, West of the Border, South of the Sun is a guiltless pleasure, and The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is a sprawling epic of abstract and tangible experiences that all wounded up in text by design.
However, if you ask me to recall any of the scenes in the books mentioned, I can honestly say that I can’t remember anything at all. I do have fond memories of the sex scenes, but I can’t answer why or how the sex happened. Not surprisingly, the carnal pleasure is the one that leaves an indelible mark in the mind.
After having drifted apart from his work for about four years, my co-worker lent me Kafka on the Shore, a book that I wanted to purchase for a long time, but just didn’t for reasons unknown. I’m on the verge of finishing the novel, but I can’t wait to weigh in my thoughts as to what I’ve read so far.
If I were to suggest a Philosophy major in his freshman year or a confused teenage boy on an author to read on, I would immediately suggest Muramaki in a heartbeat. There’s just something magical about how he deals with adolescent topics – philosophy included – with sincere curiosity.
In his adult life which I assume is brimming with wisdom and profound knowledge, there is no other author aside from the aforementioned Jose that brings me the joys and pains of youth as accurately, as if Muramaki is vicariously living through his readers. The sex, even to those who have yet to experience it in this perverse beauty, feels too close yet so far at the same time. Even his skills of fleshing out characters in his novels through conversations, which I feel is Muramaki’s greatest asset as a writer, draws me in to the power of the unsaid through what has been said. This is pretty much what Kafka on the Shore is all about.
There’s a great chance that I probably won’t remember anything about the book a couple of months now, but this is besides the point. Kafka on the Shore reaffirmed my faith in one of the greatest and most compelling authors of my generation, and I would be looking forward to reading more of his work in the foreseeable future.
P.S. Out of my knee-jerk reaction to Murakami, I’ve joined the 2012 Muramaki Challenge. Read here to find out more about it.