“Every one of us is losing something precious to us. Lost opportunities, lost possibilities, feelings we can never get back again. That’s part of what it means to be alive.”
The above quote from Kafka on the Shore captures the essence of Haruki Murakami’s writing more eloquently than I could describe it. The notion of life as a series of moments passing by, given meaning by its opposite; loss.
In a way, it describes the process of reading a Murakami novel. As a reader, you’re never quite sure where this wonderful journey is taking you and upon its end, you aren’t quite sure if everything has been resolved but you can enjoy the moments that led to it. If you can learn to appreciate the journey as the experience, then you can appreciate what Murakami has to offer.
The mundane, fantasy, finding yourself
One of the common complaints I read about are from people who dislike Murakami’s explanations of the mundane things that the protagonist does. But I think the paragraphs serve to create a vivid image in the reader’s head. You can always see, clearly, what’s going on in the protagonist’s environment as well as the constant and increasing tension applied throughout the novels.
Another issue, from what I’ve read, is that they all seem to revolve around males, faced with some sort of loss, who love classical music and train stations, who must go to some place beyond reality or their comfort zone in order to seek what they’re after. But despite motifs, his works are not repetitive or formulaic. You know you’re reading Murakami as he has grown into an author with a style based on his strengths. The worlds created are fantastic, immersive and unique from each other.
The introduction of metaphysical elements and the “fantastic” provide a thought provoking medium as well. Murakami’s is a world where cats can talk, people can communicate psychically, and seemingly inexplicable things can happen at any time.
It’s a world that once you’re drawn into, you don’t want to leave.