1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

I’ve mentioned before that I was reading this. It is a long book.

I also mentioned that I was enjoying it. I did enjoy it, thoroughly. It tells the story of a woman and man, which immediately makes it a bit different from most Murakami. They go to a strange world, which they don’t fully understand, and do things for reasons that aren’t really clear, a lot of the time. They never meet, but are in love from when they were children. There’s a creepy religious cult with some very dubious practices, into which’s orbit both Tengo and Aomame get loosely drawn. There’s a book with some things in it that don’t make any sense and then exist in the world and start doing stuff.

It can be very difficult to express why you’d want to read over 900 pages of this.

I saw a quote somewhere – turns out it’s by Bill Evans: “jazz is a process”. Murakami writes jazz. The song is standard, perhaps (the plot of 1Q84 could describe the plot of most of his books). But the notes and the sounds are new every time, and it’s never entirely clear where it’s all going, or what it all means; you have to listen closely.

And Murakami is just masterful with words. The similes knocked me out. Most mortals would be happy to write just one sentence half as good as “The kind of clouds watercolor artists like lingered in the sky” but there are dozens of examples in this book, and the rest of the writing barely dips below that.

One thing I didn’t like (besides the size of the book – it’s not comfortable to hold; perhaps I would have been better with 3 separate volumes) was the keming around the apostrophes. How petty is this? But every can’t or won’t read to me as cant and wont and it just bugged me every time.


2 thoughts on “1Q84 – Haruki Murakami”

  1. OK, i’m gonna say it. I don’t think “The kind of clouds watercolor artists like lingered in the sky” is an especially good sentance. Firstly, it doesn’t scan very well (IMHO) though that is probably down to translation to be fair. Secondly, its a bit of mundane observation really. Sky looks like painting of sky is not too far from what he is saying. I prefer something with a bit more punch, e.g.

    The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

    1. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. But you are wrong. The sentence is not just about describing what the sky looked like, it’s about setting the scene, which includes casting light on how the characters are seeing it. Obviously the translation is not what Murakami wrote, but I think the rhythm matches the movement of the clouds – or non-movement. And it’s trying to convey a completely different feeling from “the sky above the port…” (which is also pretty good).

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