Kafka on the Shore

Last week, I read Kafka on the Shore by Murakami. I was mesmerised. Very few books have swept me away like this.

The Lord of the Rings is among them. In the sixth form, I refused to read it. Being an arrogant little punk, I was suspicious of a book that so many of my peers raved about. Luckily for me, my first friend at University insisted I read it and lent me her copy. Despite having an A level in English lit, I had never read anything like it. Back in 1972, there simply wasn’t as much fantasy literature around. I was, of course, entranced. Wales, where I studied, suddenly transformed itself into Middle Earth. I shall be for ever grateful to my friend, Polly.

Probably the next book to have this effect on me was The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B by J P Donleavy. This was recommended by a guy I worked for as a systems programmer at Addenbrookes Hospital. He also recommended Kurt Vonnegut, another author who made an immeasurable contribution to my life.

There are so many wonderful books, but, occasionally, one grabs you by the throat. Kafka on the Shore just did that to me.


This week, I’ve been clobbered by some bug that has kept me coughing most of the night and left me feeling lousy. I’ve had to duck out of going to bellringing practices, a lunchtime concert, a Pilates class and my violin lesson. The cabbages on my allotment have probably been eaten by badgers. I managed a bit of shopping at the market yesterday, and that’s it.

Well, sort of. Actually, I’ve done lots of writing and reading, unencumbered by guilty thoughts of where else I ought to be and what else I should be doing. Among other things, I’m halfway though Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. I’ve fallen in love with his writing.

All the stuff I get to do is great, and I’m really lucky to be able to do it. But sometimes it feels good to hide away from all the usual obligations and expectations. I’m going to do this more often, without the need for unwelcome germs as a prompt.