1Q84 by Haruki
Murakami, a 944-page print edition hyped as his magnum opus, strikes me
more as simply super-sized, if vintage Murakami--with reservations--and
still addictively readable as the master storyteller serves up his
signature narrative lines with its swing of wry amusement. The pages
turn effortlessly for an easy week's read.
Aomame enters a world with, yes, two
moons, and where she will find a profound clash of epic Manichaean
consequence taking place. But first she has an assassination scheduled.
She is a female avenger for hire, along the lines of Steig Larsson's
Lisbeth Salander. Wife beaters and worse beware!
The other half of the duo that makes for
romance in 1Q84 is young
aspiring novelist Tengo--a Murakami stand-in
we've seen before. The soulmate he yearns for--Aomame--he first saw and
once held her hand in grammar school, then fate took her away ... The
romance setup mimics the earlier South
the Border, East of the Sun.
pays homage to hardboiled American
of the 1940s who've influenced Murakami. Aomame meets the employing
dowager in a greenhouse that recalls Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep.
Tengo's dad, whose job is collecting State TV subscription fees
door-to-door, recalls the unceasing industry of James M. Cain's Mildred
Pierce. In 1Q84, his
subscription collection continues even when the
dad lapses into a coma!
Still, my chief reservation would be Murakami's willingness to
such a long narrative by pushing literary fiction closer to genre
thriller, trading nuance for jolts. That Aomame and Tengo eventually
find each other
seems a pachinko machine-like resolution.
Having said that, 1Q84
lacks not for narrative punch and pace.
When Aomame, alone, meets face-to-face with the head of the novel's
McGuffin-ish religious cult and the Leader confesses his existential
agony is a meditative corporeal, sexual paralysis, Haruki-san has
pulled out the stops: If the story engine was hitting on all cylinders,
he's then injecting nitrous oxide for a boost that takes the reader
The last two-thirds of 1Q84
are reader-tension heaven.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, translated from the Japanese by
Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin, Knopf, New York, 944 pp., ISBN:
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)
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