Life is desire

Excerpt from If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura

Photo by Daria Shatova on Unsplash

This is an excerpt from the book If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura, translated by Eric Selland.

In my dream the man says, “Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot.” The little tramp wears a silk hat and an oversized suit, twirling his walking stick as he approaches. I’ve always been moved by these words. When I first heard them and even more so now. I want to tell him how important theyare to me but I can’t get the words out.

The little man continues: “There’s something just as inevitable as death. And that’s life.”

Yes, I get it! For the first time I understand the significance of these words, now that I’m so close to death. Life and death have the same weight. My problem is just that for me the scales are starting to tip more toward the latter.

Until now I’d been living as best I could, and I don’t think I was doing too badly. But now, all I seem to have left is regrets. It feels like my life is gradually being crushed by the overwhelming weight of death.

The man in the suit seems to know what I’m thinking and comes over, stroking his little toothbrush mustache. “What do you want meaning for? Life is desire, not meaning. Life is a beautiful, magnificent thing, even to a jellyfish.”

That must be it. It has to be. Life has meaning for everything, even a jellyfish or a pebble by the side of the road. Even your appendix must exist for a reason.

So what does it mean when I make something disappear from the world? Isn’t that an unforgivable crime? With the meaning of my own life so up in the air, I’m beginning to wonder whether I might actually be worth less than a jellyfish.

Have you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!

Cats Disappeared From the World – Summary

Here is the book summary from Goodreads:

Our narrator’s days are numbered. Estranged from his family, living alone with only his cat Cabbage for company, he was unprepared for the doctor’s diagnosis that he has only months to live. But before he can set about tackling his bucket list, the Devil appears with a special offer: in exchange for making one thing in the world disappear, he can have one extra day of life. And so begins a very bizarre week . . .

Because how do you decide what makes life worth living? How do you separate out what you can do without from what you hold dear? In dealing with the Devil our narrator will take himself – and his beloved cat – to the brink. Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World is a story of loss and reconciliation, of one man’s journey to discover what really matters in modern life.

Copyright © 2018 by Genki Kawamura.

Translated by: Eric Selland

More details can be found here on Goodreads and on StoryGraph.

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