1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Mike’s review

From what I remember, Murakami’s language can be sparse and repetitive (perhaps it’s the translation?), but this is rough. (I noted it in A Wild Sheep Chase, but not in Kafka. Maybe I’m okay with it when I like the book, not so okay when I don’t.) Almost 100 pages before details are done and something like story starts (though there’s been plot already. Not sure exactly how to explain this).

Okay, here it is: New character, this is the second paragraph of description. First is a quarter of the page, includes physical description, clothes and basic knowledge of who he is. Here’s the second, in its entirety:

In his private life, the man enjoyed toying with machines and gadgets. He collected progressive rock records from the sixties and seventies, and lived in another part of Azabu with his handsome young beautician boyfriend. His name was Tamaru. Aomame could not be sure if this was his family name or his given name or what characters he wrote it with. People just called his “Tamaru.”

Absolutely none of that ends up being relevant. Now that I’ve finished reading, going back over my notes, all of that is so irrelevant to the rest of the story, reading that is like reading it for the first time.

There is sooo soooo soooooooo much repetition. Like every other sentence is the same in some instances.

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How is the Chekhov passage handled in Russian to Japanese to English translation? Looks like Murakami contributed with translators, so some thought was put into this. The copyright page is in the back of the book. That disoriented me for a while.

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“[The brain] consumed some forty percent of the body’s total energy.” Is this why I eat the way I do? My brain does too much?

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So much time with no events that the slightest even seems huge and the two narrators’ previously separated worlds colliding is breath-taking. (When I went back over previous Murakami books, I made this note for Kafaka as well.)

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Prediction/kinda spoiler, but not really because nothing is ever explained in a Murakami novel: Aomame is Tengo’s story. He will write her to life in his world.

This ended up kinda being true. Or not. Correlation does not equal causation. It’s hard to say if the story created the world or the world begot the story. Murakami claims either/both depending on what suits his current point better.

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“‘I can bear any pain as long as it has meaning.'” -Leader. So he’s Catholic [Rimshot].

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Nothing has been repeated in this section and then this gem comes out: “Still, sometimes simple repetition has meaning.” Said about daily routines, but somewhat of a postmodern defense of the indefensibleness of the language’s repetitiveness.

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One of these girls has to be Tengo’s mom, right?

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There’s a nice build of action up to Book Three, which starts with months of waiting. I think I’d have rioted if that’s what I got in serialized form.

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Characters randomly, suddenly jump to wild conclusions and then those wild conclusions are true and it, like a lot else, is frustrating.

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So annoyed with dead pace of third book. Stuck through. Already put in four weeks, 900 pages worth of work.

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Is it still foreshadowing if it takes 600 pages to get to the second even and the event is meaningless? I didn’t write down what this is about. I’m doing a lot of venting from now until the end of this review, so stop now if you’re looking for a Positive Mental Attitude.

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Here’s the thing about repetition: when you say the receptionist nurse (who has a Japanese name I can’t remember because I’m a racist) was brusque and unkind upon initially meeting Tengo every single time you mention her, the reader tends to not forget. So you can’t get away with “They were outstanding nurses, and had always been kind to him.”

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“[My anger] had transformed into something more like a faintly colored sorrow.” This is a really good sentence, but the dowager is far too old for her level of righteous anger. Mine dried up years ago.

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There’s not really a plot and what there is is spaced out, but here’s your plot summary: Yes! No! Yes! Tenuous, actually unfathomable link becomes perfectly clear in character’s mind. The world is supposed to be crazy, but no one is ever wrong about anything. This is an action movie with no twists, but lots of explosions. Actually more talking about explosions than actual explosions.

A character makes a wild hypothesis, it’s presented as crazy then presented as of course it’s true.

But nothing is ever actually explained.

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So tired of one sentence making the previous wholly irrelevant.

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Page 1044: filling out paperwork.

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Where’s the editor? Indian summer? Ushikawa was just complaining about freezing his ass off. So sick of untrue shit. Murakami just says whatever he wants, whatever will fit for the temporary space, with absolutely no regard to what was said previously or the world/novel as a whole.

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That Aomame feels she needs to wear the same clothes she wore to return to 1984 from 1Q84 is infuriating. This is some version of “women be shopping.” A vagina brings with it an obsession with clothes.

Also pretty sexist: (as previously noted in reading Murakami) the way in which menstruation is dealt with.

Also pretty sexist: that semen can magically end up inside Aomame but has to be physically, tangibly pulled from Tengo by an underage girl (even if said underage girl is actually only a “concept.” She disappears for the “resolution” of the novel. Though, it’s pretty sexist in its own right that underage girls can be reduced to concepts, are quite literally stripped of their humanity by becoming dhotas or mazas, I don’t remember which one is supposed to be something like a person and which is less than a person).

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It’s frustrating and careless to have people say “moon” when they mean “moons.” Several times I thought they’d been transported back to 1984, only to find it was essentially carelessness/typo.

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Moral(?): death (at the hands of men) comes to those with beautiful breasts. Seriously, you better not have attractive breasts or you will be raped and killed. No wonder Aomame prattles (this is a sexist, diminutive word I’ve chosen to use while complaining about the sexism of the novel) on about the size/shape of her unbearably ugly breasts.

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So Aomame and Tengo go to 1Q84, destroy it and most likely bring the Little People (who, if not evil are something of a chaotic force of nature) with them to new world through their baby (who can hear the voices). This is supposed to be a happy ending? We destroyed at least two worlds, but he likes the size and shape of her breasts and she thinks his penis is miraculously hard so everything is okay?

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If anyone read this: What’s with the Little People building an air chrysalis out of Ushikawa’s mouth? Why? Why is this there?

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“And that worries you–if a pistol comes on the secene, it’s sure to be fired at some point.”

“In Chekhov’s view, yes.”

“So you’re thinking you’d rather not hand me a pistol.”

“They’re dangerous. And illegal. And Chekhov is a writer you can trust.”

“But this is not a story. We’re talking about the real world.”

Tamaru narrowed his eyes and looked hard at Aomame. Theyn, slowly opening his mouth, he said, “Who knows?”

Goddammit. I wish I hadn’t taken a picture of that scene cuz it kinda makes me look like an asshole. That said, Murakami didn’t need 1200 pages to make me look like an asshole.

Also, the gun never is used, which I don’t have a problem with, but after all the talk of Chekhov’s law, I would’ve appreciated it at least being dealt with. Thrown into the ocean or dropped at her feet even. Something.

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I searched the Internet to try to figure out why people like this. Someone on Goodreads compares this book to Forrest Gump (negatively) and that is pretty much the best thing ever.

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