Saturday, May 9, 2009


I picked up Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami a year ago at Barnes and Noble. The book sat on my bedside table collecting dust and shooting me the hairy eyeball from time to time. Twice I tried to read it, and twice I failed to get beyond the first chapter. Some books just have to be read at the right time, a time that had not yet come for Murakami's book.

Apparently, six days of chemotherapy and its lingering effects put me where I needed to be (trapped?), and I finally made it to the second chapter. Maybe the fantastic, the gruesome, and the incomprehensible go down easier when the reader is experiencing her own tenuous grip on reality. Brain damage is also a handy excuse for being unable to comprehend much of what happens in the novel. I was a lot less likely to question serious breaks with reality, a lot more willing to accept the odd, the outrageous, and the frequent challenges to the space-time continuum.

Kafka on the Shore is partial to libraries, to books, to metaphor--my safety zone. Its two main characters include the 15-year old Kafka, who's a voracious reader, and an older man who's completely illiterate. A major theme of the novel (and a favorite of mine in general) is how memories are made, stored, changed and passed on. Kafka walks away from the novel with a memory of his mother, a personal fulfillment of his quest.

The book is mysterious and compelling. I was hoping for a few more "answers" but settled for the fleeting insights and tenuous connections drawn between past and present, male and female, violence and kindness. Kafka on the Shore is at once a song, a painting and the novel itself. You'll have to read it to know what the heck I'm talking about.

In Leukemia News, I'm remaining fever-free and struggling to put some shape into my days, which float by cloaked in shapeless housedresses--a flash of floral and then they're gone.


Sue said...

I have to hand it to you pj, not only are you reading, you are reading a difficult and weighty book and coming to thoughtful conclusions about both the book's contents and yourself. And, to boot, you write about it eloquently.

As a former librarian and fairly voracious reader, since Ben's dx in September of 2007, I think I have read maybe two books. I seem to lean more toward reading the LLS boards, leukemia and transplant info on the internet, the newspaper, and doing sudoku and other math puzzles. I even started watching American Idol regularly for the first time since it went on air.

So glad to hear that you are fever-free. Keep up the good work!


Brenda said...

My, Patricia, you are a strong one. My last read in hospital was Harry Potter, after which I was only able to read articles from scientific magazines which a friend of mine would send me. Fiction became so impossible that I couldn't watch TV any more. Only slow-going documentaries.

It's so good to see how you are keeping your wits together. I don't think anybody has ever accomplished such a deed after ARA-C!

Do take care, safe hugs, Brenda

Lea Morrison said...

READING?????? Oh my goodness- you are a tough woman and no slouch in what you read. I could barely tolerate reading through the menu while going through transplant- I was hoping it came with an audio version. The words just jumped around and made me even dizzzier.

Housedresses are better than hospital issued stuff. At least your bottom is covered:)!

Keep going strong- thinking of you everyday.