Certainly an enlightening read about what it means to be a Geisha. I heard talk about this book mostly in relation to Memoirs Of A Geisha, a story I e...moreCertainly an enlightening read about what it means to be a Geisha. I heard talk about this book mostly in relation to Memoirs Of A Geisha, a story I enjoyed, but this book definitely disproves a lot of the details about the life of a Geisha as depicted in that work of fiction.
As for this book itself - it was rich in detail, which I appreciated. I did wonder at times how Mineko could remember things from the past in such detail however, especially from when she was still young. Sometimes I didn't really like her as a narrator either. She seems to have been raised as a princess, and sometimes I really got annoyed by this air of superiority. Maybe it's just a distorted image one gets because of the examples she used in the book, but there was often a case where she said that she'd gotten compliments about having done this or that particularly well.. which eventually got on my nerves. I understand that she's a legend in her field (and a bit of a workaholic) and probably earned the right to be proud of what she's achieved in life, but sometimes it made her seem condescending towards others. It wasn't always pleasant to read about.
Overall though it's a very informative book, if you want to learn to look beyond the stereotypes of traditional Japanese culture and Geishas.(less)
Let's be honest - not a lot happens in these 400+ pages that make up 1q84 book 1. Some things the characters say are repeated a few times, which is sl...moreLet's be honest - not a lot happens in these 400+ pages that make up 1q84 book 1. Some things the characters say are repeated a few times, which is slightly problematic as character building and exposition is about all that happens here.
But I give it four stars anyway. Part of that is due to Jacques Westerhoven, who is an excellent translator and whose additional notes were really interesting and helpful. I'm usually not a big fan of footnotes, but in this case, it totally worked.
Most of it is due to the characters. Aomame, Ayumi and the Old Lady are absolutely kickass. I absolutely loved reading about them and their lives. So, you're a virgin until 26? Who cares! And now you occasionally just want to have sex? That's totally fine! Yay for sexual freedom and no judging!
Fukaeri is also super interesting. I really like what Murakami does with dyslexia when it comes to her character: it's always nice to see that people don't equate dyslexia with dumbness. Many teachers seem to do this, with bad consequences for the students involved.. my cousin and niece have hated school because of this reason. True, Fukaeri (or should I say Eri?) doesn't really attend school either, but at least it's clear it's not her fault, as she's really clever. You go Eri, four for you Eri. Maybe school systems will be changed soon that they can deal with dyslexia and similar problems more efficiently in the future.
Of course the whole sect plotline is creepy and worrisome, and one that I don't necessarily care about so much, but in that this is just a typical Murakami book for me: characters > plot.
And my, the female characters in this book are all fantastic. Can't wait for book 2.(less)