- Name: Daniel Earnhart
- Age: 20
- Occupation: Pharmacist's Assistant
- Neighborhood: El Cajon
- Where Interviewed: Barnes & Noble, Grossmont Center
What are you reading?
“Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murakami, the Japanese surrealist writer. It’s about a person who basically lives parallel lives: one is his conscious life and the other is his subconscious. His subconscious is manifested in the form of a land surrounded by walls. It’s divided between the forest and the town. It’s hard to get much more into it than that.”
Tell me about the main character.
“He’s never named, but he’s called a Calcutech. Basically, there are these two competing factions in his conscious world. The competition is about information control. The System tries to control and protect information, and the Factory tries to steal and sell information. He works for the the System.”
How did you start reading it?
“Someone recommended the author to me. I read another book of his, Kafka on the Shore. I’ve never really read anything like him before; the surrealism is not something I’m used to. He’s the first Japanese author that I’ve read, so I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.”
Tell me about Kafka on the Shore.
“The main character’s favorite author is Kafka. He lives with his father, very unhappily, and he decides to run away. He’s, I don’t know, 15 or 16. When he runs away, he has to pick a new name, and he calls himself Kafka. He gets a lot of flak for it, because he’s living in Japan and calling himself Kafka Tamura. It’s kind of unheard of. The book is really about the people he meets, learning how to accept himself, growing up and making decisions for himself. But with Murakami as an author, it’s really hard to pin down exactly what his books are about, because they cover a lot of different things, and almost everything is a metaphor.”
You have to reread pages?
“Yes, trying to figure out, ‘What does he mean here?’ There’s one section of Kafka on the Shore where he talks about fish falling from the sky over a busy intersection in Tokyo. It just happens out of nowhere; there’s no explanation for it. No one really gets hurt, though one woman does get a black eye.”
What do you think that meant?
“Basically, that you can’t plan for anything. When you try to lay down a plan and say, ‘This is how my life is going to go,’ something ridiculous will happen.”
Tell me about his style.
“Well, it’s translated, so it’s kind of hard to be sure. But there’s a lot of surrealism, a lot of metaphors, and a lot of deadpan humor. Just sort of dry, sarcastic remarks worked into this surreal landscape. He talks a lot about nature as well, nature and sexuality — he emphasizes the importance of working with nature. And there’s a scene that’s been coming up a lot about what happens when you’re in darkness, being alone in the dark and the things it does to your perception.”
Who is your favorite author?
“Kurt Vonnegut. He has this really dark but realistic view of the world, but at the same time, there’s a sense of humor in his writing that says, ‘Everything is okay.’ We had a bookshelf in my house, and I was looking at it. It was full of things that didn’t really interest me, but Slaughterhouse-Five just stood out. I liked it so much that I started looking for other books by him.”
What has been the most life-changing book for you?
“I can’t really say that there’s a book that has had a very clear effect on me. But reading people like Vonnegut, when you come to see their perspective…it’s encouraged me to take a step back and analyze situations more, instead of just taking it as it comes.”
When did you start reading?
“I’ve always been a reader. I read The Lord of the Rings when I was seven or eight.”
Do you talk to people about reading?
“One of the pharmacists at work saw me reading Murakami in the breakroom. He started talking about the book and offered to let me borrow another one by Murakami.”
Do you read any magazines or newspapers?
“I read the newspaper if it’s in front of me. And I read Scientific American and Psychology Today online. They interest me. I’ll read five or six articles a week. I’ll finish it if it interests me. I’m kind of fickle.”