And I finished reading the present from ciarajanae, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. In the time since I'd last read a Haruki Murakami book, I'd heard several people criticize his writing rather harshly, but reading this one re-confirmed for me how much his writing dazzles me. I think I have something of a preference for surrealist-tinged writing. It's awfully difficult for any writer to rehash Oedipal themes with any originality, because it's been done way too many times, but I think Murakami did a pretty decent job of it. And the extremely graphic cat-torture in this book was, exactly as afro76 warned me, a bit much to handle, but at least mercifully short.
The biggest thing I didn't like about the book was the fact that his example of some random people who were seriously lacking in imagination and the ability to think for themselves was a pair of feminists. I mean, they were rather annoying feminists and he didn't claim they were typical of feminism as a whole, but just . . . out of all the infinite different examples he could have given as examples of unthinking, imaginationless lemmings, why did it have to be feminists? Why did it have to be people affiliated with any particular political position at all? Even though Murakami did not claim that they were representative of all feminists, the fact that they were the only characters in the book who were explicitly associated with feminism tends to rather leave an impression that they were. And also, replying to an accusation that one is a sexist male by announcing that one is actually female quite misses the point.