1Q84

Haruki Murakami
“Murakami is like a magician who explains what he’s doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers . . . But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it's the rare artist, like this one, who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves.” —The New York Times Book Review   The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-01-03
I have yet to try my hand at Murakami.
Reviewed: 2016-07-08
At 925 pages, this is an absolute cat-squisher of a book. I wasn't too worried because I’m a fangirl, and I figured the more, the better, right? Well, yes and no.

1Q84 is at once typical and atypical Haruki Murakami. His usual tropes – ears, cats, jazz records, awkward sex, missing women – all make an appearance, but almost like afterthoughts, as though he suddenly remembered, “Ah yes, I am Haruki Murakami, so at some point my main character must be fascinated by a woman’s ear.” But the story is unusual in that it is, first and foremost, a love story. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, then – very unusual for Murakami – boy finds girl again. Incidentally, love between boy and girl allows their escape from sinister religious group. That’s pretty romantic, in my opinion. He must be going soft in his old age.

Disappointingly, there weren’t many of the truly fantastic episodes that mark his best work, e.g. [b:Wind-Up Bird Chronicle|18115724|Wind-Up Bird Chronicle|Haruki Murakami|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1410778749s/18115724.jpg|2531376]. Murakami is famous for his flat writing style, but 1Q84 is especially sparse. There is so much of the mundane - cooking, exercising, drinking, writing, etc. - that without the flashes of magical realism to break it up, the story would really drag. I don't really understand why the book needs to be this long, but enough niggling questions were raised that I simply had to find out what happens next.

So even though it wasn’t the masterpiece that I hoped for, I did enjoy 1Q84. If you are a newbie, I wouldn’t recommend this to be the first Murakami that you read, but if you are already a fan, I say go for it!
Reviewed: 2015-10-19
Simply superb. Murakami's storytelling ability is absolutely astonishing, and nearly unparalleled in my experience. Here he has created a narrative that is part science fiction, part fantasy, part crime and love story without appearing as a patchwork of different genres. The cast is equally as varied, and each character is utterly compelling. On top of that, the plot was unpredictable, and every page of it was so well-written that I found myself at the end before I knew it. I would gladly recommend this book to anyone, and look forward to reading more of Murakami's work.
Reviewed: 2015-09-30
So far I'm really enjoying this as I've enjoyed mostly everything by Murakami I've read previously. Bonus points for it being such a long audiobook (46 hours) and having two really good readers. The shifts into alternate realities have been rather subtle and the characters have reacted first with the belief that the differences in universes were always there and somehow they'd just overlooked them which seems an imminently reasonable response. I'm intrigued to see how the two characters will intersect as their paths are so different but also tinged with the tiniest of overlaps. Murakami's flat, matter of fact delivery is a deft tool to deliver the more incredible events in his fiction.

There was a moment where I started to flag in my concern for the two leads, as the action seemed to be in a holding pattern. It seems the author sensed this too, as a third narrative perspective started, and the book regained its early energy. But the end fell kind of flat for me. I don't want to give any spoilers but it all closed much sooner than it seemed the storyline required (at least as far as I was anticipating).
I hate this book. I have the time to continue, but am disinclined. It's always tough with translated literature to criticize the author's skill, but if this bears any resemblance to the original structure I think it might be a prank by Murakami.<br /><br />It may have been a fun, writer-ly exercise to draw a stark contrast in style with an author/editor character. As Tengo is working to edit one author's spare, ungrammatical text, revising his own writing style in the process to be more concise, Murakami dwells in scenes that fail to progress the story. He's repetitive and pedantic and seems to revel in the parts of the story most authors avoid, mostly because they're not 'story'. Characters cannot manage a simple 'hello' in fewer than five paragraphs. Certainly, name-checking Chekhov's maxim not to introduce a gun into the story unless it is to be fired is a deliberate contrast between content and style. "I'm writing about unembellished, straightforward characters in the most ornate and meandering style possible." It's a waste of time and is aggravating.<br /><br />While screwing with the reader this way, Murakami also avoids telling parts of the story that ought to be told. One character tells another character that impossible things from one novella are actually true accounts, but this scene is skipped over and mentioned later as an aside after the first character disappears. It's as though Murakami forgot to add the scene but needed to bring up that it had occurred in order to explain what happens next or why one thing is significant. Perhaps Murakami's stature has grown so great that editors no longer feel qualified to guide his text.<br /><br />There is so much sex in this book and I'm abandoning it before the halfway point. I'm assuming more breast fixation and scrotum massaging will follow but I'm just not interested. There have been enough Goodreads reviewers that don't understand spoilers that I am certain that this continues to be front and center until the last page of the book. Just, well, just grow up. Rapes have occurred offstage. I'm abandoning the book before Murakami makes them a central feature. This is just an assumption, of course, but I don't trust this author's handling of such events. Not in 1Q84.<br /><br />If I were to attempt to write in the style of 1Q84 it would be something like this: <br /><br /><blockquote>"Hello," said the man.<br /><br />He was a man of average height, average for his community, that is, when he said 'hello'. But when he had been a boy of 11 in the public middle school in a small town 50 miles away he was the tallest male in his class. Only one girl had been slightly taller than the man, then just a boy, of course. That had been before the death of his parents and long before his realization that he was a homosexual. So, it was perfectly natural that he should be saying 'hello'.<br /><br />Also, the man was in the act of greeting a woman he knew, so 'hello' seemed a good choice of word for the occasion. People often began exchanges that way and the woman received the salutation with no obvious surprise. It was, one could say, a perfectly natural way to begin a conversation. In fact, using 'hello' in almost any other scenario than the one here described would likely lead to an awkward moment that would be mulled over by both of them for the better part of the day.<br /><br />"Hi," she said, using a variant form of his greeting in reply, as was her wont and habit. <br /><br />Had he begun with 'Hi' she would likely have responded with 'hello'. She played on a community recreation softball team, usually as the catcher, and had a high batting average, so this practice was not out of the ordinary. It suited her.<br /><br />The two were in a small, plainly decorated room with a small table in the corner. On the table lay a telephone, a notepad for taking messages (presumably), and an automatic pistol. It is unclear how or if any of these objects influenced the beginnings of the conversation.</blockquote><br /><br />I can't do another 550 pages of this. If you are a reader, this book wasn't written for you. This is the result of one author playing around with forms in order to please himself. Cut the repetition and the padding and I could have finished this novel 100 pages ago.<br /><br />
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