Kafka on the Shore

Last week I complained that I didn’t feel like I read. Like it had been so long since I had read voraciously that I didn’t know what it was like to want to read. The friend I was speaking to told me that she thought reading happened in “cycles.” Her words seemed vaguely familiar, like I’d spoken them to her before. I have a reputation for having read a lot, or at least having read a large variety of things, but I’m also older than her. And it’s true that I believe what she said, that there are times when you write and times when you take things in, and that I’ve often relayed that, if not to her then to mutual friends. I’m writing a lot now, but it still seemed like an issue.

I used to think reading would heal me. It used to feel that way—healing. I don’t know whether it does anymore. Or whether I want to be healed. I don’t know what I’m looking for, in other words. Or if I’m looking for anything.

I want reading to feel mystical again, like waking up early and walking outside before all of the lights turn on. Like hearing praise from someone who usually tells you you’re wrong.

I’m reading Kafka on the Shore right now, by Murakami. He writes what are probably best categorized as “metaphysical thrillers.” Mysteries that extend to the life of the reader, because its signs intersect with life’s. The “Archduke Trio” was mentioned, and I felt the urge to look it up, the specific recording above.

I’m not sure if what I felt then was as powerful as what I’ve felt before. But I was reminded of a fall spent listening to recordings of Vladimir Horowitz on the car stereo, navigating very early morning traffic with a sleeper in the passenger seat. Leaving before the light. Looking for signs of any kind—in music, in books, in poetry. In light reflecting off buildings or off the body of the sleeper.

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