What is wrong with me that I could not get myself to like this novel? After all, it has received so much notice and acclaim. I started reading Haruki Murakami’s lengthy 1Q84 with lots of enthusiasm. But after the rather meandering first half, I had to coax myself to finish it. It took a month. I don’t really like leaving books unfinished. It’s my obsessive-compulsive tendencies getting the better of me sometimes.
The story started out really promising. Yes, truly. I was engrossed in the description of place and time. I even liked the characters and how the author developed each of them: The heroine, Aomame, (yes, she’s named after a pea), a very young and skillful assassin; Tengo, a talented writer with a rather sad and empty life, who somehow is destined to “complete” Aomame; the “Dowager,” defender of marginalized women in abusive relationships through her bodyguard and Aomame; the police-officer friend, Ayumi, who somehow reminded me of Lisbet Salander’s Asian lover in Stieg Larsson‘s famous trilogy, to name a few principals. They were interesting enough, with some complexity and less predictability. I even found the obsession with Janacek‘s Sinfonietta quirky.
But the others? Fuka-eri, the “Leader,” even the little people — well, I got lost there. The little people especially floored me. I kept asking myself, should I stop taking this book seriously? Should I see it as nothing but a shallow pretender that parodies serious dystopian societies? Or a dark comedy perhaps? Everytime I read about the “little people,” I could not help but imagine the Grand Central Station locker creatures in Men in Black, reciting in unison, welcoming Agent K, praising him for lending them his watch, “K is back! The keeper of the light! All hail K! All hail K! Oh K can you see by the dawn’s early light… ” Oops! I might get neuralyzed if I’m not careful. And, I’m digressing……
There was also a total lack of decorum towards sex. Not that I’m a prude. I just found the attitude so pervasive like it’s the norm, nonchalant to the point of being mundane and workaday, almost universal among the characters. I started asking myself if this is all part of the existential world this story is in, where sex is not much different from having to brush your teeth or taking out your trash. I tend to come from an age (or era?) where sex is considered a beautiful and very personal activity.
It may be that I lack the literary expertise to appreciate this. After all, Mr. Murakami has quite the following. And he has won many literary awards. Maybe I’m just not an intellectual high brow for this level of reading.
Perhaps, I should just cave in to my hubby’s pronouncements that all these stories are ultimately love stories. That I should stop over-thinking them. This coming from someone who believes that even the likes of Saving Private Ryan, Inglorious Basterds, or Pulp Fiction are love stories.
Well, if so, then, this was a very elaborate, long-winded, tortuous, ya-you-lost-me-a-hundred-pages-ago, happily-ever-after fix. Not!
P.S. For those of you who have read a Murakami masterpiece and really enjoyed it, can you suggest an earlier work that would more likely impress and satisfy?
- 1Q84 (Book 1)- Haruki Murakami (lucybirdbooks.wordpress.com)
- Book Review: 1Q84 (kickingthepants.com)
- Book #1 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (congenitallydisturbed.wordpress.com)
- 1Q84 – Murakami’s cult masterpiece (afetteredmind.com)
- How does 1Q84 stack up to Haruki Murakami’s classic novels? (io9.com)
- [Books] 1Q84 (geeky-guide.com)
- 1Q84: Finished and Shelved. (greatgreths.wordpress.com)