It’s my first Murakami. I’ve been recommended Norweigian Wood as well, which I’m planning to purchase tomorrow.
Kafka on the Shore is a very user-friendly book, to say the least. I expected more pretension from an export author, but for all the weirdness and pseudoincestual bits I found it very wholesome, very charming. Some of the the references, especially to older literature, were given too much expository treatment, but I guess Murakami was just being considerate to his Japanese readers. I’m still trying to finalize my theories about the Nakata/Kafka relationship and the Snake, and might take a second trip through the book to confirm them. Meanwhile, feel free to post any of your theories.
(Anyone else think that the Orpheus allusion near the end was incredibly pretty?)