After our initial Miso trip, we decided to look for a book store in the area and found a HUGE one at The Galeries called Kinokuniya. Kinokuniya is the largest bookstore chain in Japan and this is currently the only one in Australia. I'd finished A Tale for the Time Being the week prior, and wanted to check out a Murakami novel. I was on the fence between Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Kafka on the Shore. To be honest, the latter was last on my list, as I was leaning toward The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but when I got to the Murakami section, there was a note recommending the other two. When I opened Kafka on the Shore to the first page and read the opening conversation with the boy named Crow and "...the time being" in italics, I figured I'd better go with Kafka, as a Jungle Crow played a role in A Tale for the Time Being, and it all seemed a little too coincidental. This was definitely a different read: a teenage runaway, Oedipus-like premonitions, a villain named Johnny Walker who kills cats, freezing their heads and eating their still-beating hearts in order to collect their souls to fashion a magic flute, a childlike old man who converses with cats after never having recovered from a mysterious incident in which 16 school children lost consciousness simultaneously on a mountainside during the war, WWII soldiers standing guard at the threshold of purgatory, sexually active living ghosts - even an appearance from a Japanese Colonel Sanders (that's right - the fried chicken guy) who shows up as a pimp. While the book was an easy read (it took less than a week to get through the 500+ pages), it didn't exactly leave you with an assurance that you "got it". I didn't sweat it too much, as from what I've read, I don't know that Murakami "got it" all either, but it didn't leave me ready to sign up for another Murakami right away. Still, I might check outThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle after a bit of a hiatus. If you're interested in finding out more, here's John Updike's review in The New Yorker.
We basically deja vu-ed the whole weekend again this week and went back to Kinokuniya a second time, as I'd finished the novel I'd picked up the week prior. I went back for another Ozeki, this time picking up My Year of Meats, another cross-cultural story of two women. This is her first novel, and it focuses on an American woman who lands a gig producing a Japanese reality show called "My American Wife" sponsored by an American meat exporter. The woman crosses paths with a Japanese housewife attempting to escape her husband...this is all I know thus far. It's an award-winning novel, and I'm just hoping it's half as good as my first Ozeki experience.