Monday, May 28, 2012

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

At the risk of someone saying, "You didn't like 1Q84 because you are intellectually inferior," I'll say that 1Q84 is one of those books that people say they like, just to appear intellectually superior. Written by iconic Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami, who is probably most famous for Kafka On The Shore, 1Q84 was on several "best books of 2011" lists, and the book cover was pretty cool, so I decided to give it a chance. And for 925 pages I gave and gave.

The story, set in Tokyo, begins with main character, Aomame, on her way to a work assignment. When her taxi gets stuck in traffic, she decides to get out and walk, at which point she enters a parallel universe of sorts, representing one of two predominate perspectives that make up 1Q84 (first quarter of 1984). The other perspective is that of Tengo, an elementary school classmate of Aomame's she hasn't seen in 20 years, but with whom she unknowingly shares an unrequited love.

Outwardly, Aomame is a fitness instructor and yoga therapist, but she also has a secret occupation performing "jobs" for a wealthy dowager who maintains a safe house for battered women. Tengo is an aspiring writer who anonymously and illicitly re-writes a book, Air Chrysalis, that becomes a literary sensation.

1Q84 is about how Aomame and Tengo reunite through a series of events so surreal and disconnected that I felt I had to read on just to make sense of the story. The book includes plenty of elements that serve more to keep you awake than anything else, including a religious cult, a supernatural group of “little people” who come out of the mouth of a dead goat, double moons in the night sky, a fictitious place called “cat town,” several murders, and a good bit of sex. Click on Read More Below...

 I am admittedly an impatient reader with a low tolerance for redundant and slow narrative, but Murakami’s repeated reference to breasts screamed oral fixation, and his lethargic story line felt more arrogant than stylized. The other thing that annoyed me was what I assume was a translation issue. The dialogue was often awkward and at times incongruously cheesy. Apparently Japanese doesn’t always translate well to English.

I have a feeling that Mr. Murakami (pictured) is somewhere laughing his 尻 off at us all.

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