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À mon chevet: 'Kafka on the Shore'

À mon chevet is a series of posts featuring a quote from whatever book is on my nightstand at the moment.

book cover
Just then Nakata thought he heard a small laugh behind him. He turned and saw, seated on a low concrete wall next to a house, a lovely, slim Siamese looking at him with narrowed eyes. "Excuse me, but would you by chance be Mr. Nakata?" the Siamese purred.

"Yes, that's correct. My name's Nakata. It's very nice to meet you."

"Likewise, I'm sure," the Siamese replied.

"It's been cloudy since this morning, but I don't expect we'll be seeing any rain soon," Nakata said.

"I do hope the rain holds off."

The Siamese was a female, just approaching middle age. She proudly held her tail up straight, and had a collar with a name tag. She had pleasant features and was slim, with not an ounce of extra fat. "Please call me Mimi. The Mimi from La Bohème. There's a song about it, too: 'Si, Mi Chiamano Mimi'."

"I see," Nakata said, not really following.

"An opera by Puccini, you know. My owner happens to be a great fan of opera," Mimi said, and smiled amiably. "I'd sing it for you, but unfortunately I'm not much of a singer."

"Nakata's very happy to meet you, Mimi-san."

"Same for me, Mr. Nakata."

-- Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore (translation by Philip Gabriel), p. 91
Since reading Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle last summer, I have been meaning to read a few of his other novels. This is the one that ended up on my nightstand first, and it has some recognizable Murakami traits that remind me of his earlier novel: two narrative strands that alternate more or less throughout the book, each being gradually unraveled through sometimes confusing shifts of time; a skirting of the boundaries of fantasy or science fiction, in some of the plot twists, by which Murakami takes the reader into a sort of liminal world where it makes sense for a character to talk with cats; characters, in shaman-like experiences, going outside the physical world; an edge of sexual tension (often in that trademarked parallel shaman-like surreality) and violence, including another gruesome scene here, not as bad as the worst passages of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but something that will remain etched in my memory with dread.

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