Thursday, November 17, 2011

Musical Magic with Kafka Cats and Wonderful Water-Ways!

I’m sure that many people share my experience when I leave off reading for a while in that I find it difficult to refocus on the kind of new book that will both stimulate and perhaps amuse but at least will not bore. The recommendations in the newspapers are often unhelpful as they seem at time to veer wildly between ‘solid’ academic tomes and chick lite pap. So I was delighted recently when my good wife recommended the Japanese author Haruki Murakami to me and especially his novel ‘Kafka on the Shore’.
It is a marvellous read which in an often bewildering fashion blends the lives of twin character both young and old in a magically cohesive way linked by suspense, humour and the power and beauty of music as a medium of expression. Furthermore he mixes dreams and reality in a highly original way during which we meet lost cats and raining fish in such a mesmerising manner that I kept staying up late to sneak in another chapter.

As an accompaniment to reading I often find that some mellow music playing in the background, and perhaps an odd glass of wine, can relax the spirit and make the experience of the imagined fictional world more tangible. I have long been an admirer of the music of Toru Takemitsu, who also being Japanese, has an acute sensibility in his musical expression which I feel compliments the written words of Murakami. I chose Takemitsu’s cd Riverrun &Water-Ways to listen to during my recent reading and I found the music deeply moving and heart felt and a perfect companion to the book.

Thus, I would recommend to anyone reading this blog that they investigate the work of both artists. My good wife suggested that perhaps a little Sushi might add the final touch of excitement to my Japanese experience. However, the very idea of raw fish being consumed still leaves me cold but I might just try some Sake instead.

Note: Toru Takemitsu’s CD with Paul Crossley and the London Sinfonietta with Oliver Knussen are on the Virgin Classics label and of course, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami is published in paperback by Vintage Books.