The Ark Sakura - Kōbō Abe, Juliet Winters Carpenter I now know where Murakami got his groove.

And Abe got his from Kafka.

There is an important scene early on in The Ark Sakura. Mole is at a swap meet, or the Japanese equivalence, and he spots a dealer selling strange insects. The eupcaccia, or clockbug, is an insect that has no feet. It revolves to face the sun and is therefore useful as a form of clock. It spins around but goes nowhere. Mole becomes fond of this insect and sees it as an analogy to his own life.

It's a clever analogy and holds promise for the rest of the novel. In the first half Mole meets the other protagonists of this tale and things go along well. But as we get to Mole's so called Ark, his plan to survive the coming nuclear holocaust, the novel take a downward turn. Absurdism quickly degenerates into silliness. In other words, his Kafka becomes Ionesco. This strange and interesting tale just goes off into too many corners and one too many monologues. In one bizarre segment it literally goes down the toilet. I enjoyed the strangeness of Abe's writings but this is nowhere near the brilliance of his Woman in the Dunes. To borrow from a popular food book series; Don't read this, read that.