Thursday, May 28, 2009

#18: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

A boy with an alter-ego named "Crow" runs away after being told of an Oedipal curse on his head; meanwhile, an elderly man who can talk to cats begins on a parallel odyssey after a brutal killing. Their paths converge at a strange library not far from a ghost-filled wood. Both a painting and a one-hit wonder song called "Kafka on the Shore" play critical roles.

Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore is incredibly difficult to summarize, as one might derive from the previous paragraph. It is strangely dreamlike, to the point of drowsiness, paragraphs of mundane detail punctuated with surprising bursts of murder, rape, and more. Serial killers and pimps drift past librarians and truck drivers. There are slugs falling from the sky, possible UFOs, and various benign and evil spirits.

Obviously not for all tastes, but certainly unique and with merit for those looking for a change of pace. I borrowed this on audiobook from my pal Michael, who you can see in the sidebar is also trying to read 50 books this year.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

#17: The Repairmen of Cyclops by John Brunner

Galactic cops get on the trail of interplanetary body-snatchers in John Brunner's brisk sci-fi outing The Repairmen of Cyclops.

John Brunner was a popular sci-fi writer of the 60s and 70s who I have never gotten into; and, in fact, I can think of two or three of his novels I have picked up and put down over the years without finishing. This was my first one of his I read all the way through, and I found it to be a serviceable yarn on one half of an Ace Double I snagged for a quarter.

I learned this was the last of a trilogy featuring these characters in various space exploits, though I didn't feel any confusion or loss from missing the others. Enough neat ideas, at a good clip, to make me think about revisiting some other Brunner.

Almost worth owning just for the cool orange 60s cover alone; google it and you'll see waht I mean.