From the moment I picked up Kafka on the Shore I was a fan of Murakami’s. I have never read anything like him before or since, and I gorged myself on...moreFrom the moment I picked up Kafka on the Shore I was a fan of Murakami’s. I have never read anything like him before or since, and I gorged myself on his back catalog. By the time I reached 1Q84 I had familiarized myself with his work, his career, and his style. Murakami writes modern magical realism, blends in classical music and literature, and creates a whole universe we as readers can inhabit for the length of his book. I adore him and I am not alone. Look at how many people downloaded the Sinfoneitta by Janácek, mentioned repeatedly in 1Q84; that is no coincidence.
1Q84 is filled with his average cast of characters. A laid-back educated man who likes to cook and has trouble with women; a gregarious teenage girl with Asperger ‘s syndrome who sees beyond reality; benignly sinister cult members who are “just doing their job”; a sexually aggressive woman—with sensual ears—who is looking to fill a void; emotionally distant people who seem to be rootless in life; and plenty of cats. Set them against a landscape that is neither reality nor un-reality, with a lot of waiting alone in confinement, and see how they react. It is a sociological experiment gone awry. This is the first book bordering on 1,000 pages that I have read in more than a decade, and despite the glacial pace of this novel, I was unable to put the novel down until I finished it.
Overall, this is a love story with complications. Two 10-year olds who united in a classroom search for each other 20 years later, physically and metaphysically, in an alternate timeline. One grows up to be an assassin of men who abuse women, the other a “not living up to his potential” teacher/writer. There is plenty of unusual circumstances, disembodied sex, other-worldly creatures, urban ennui, and Proust. Did that get your attention? Then read the book. Those new to Murakami start off with something “metaphysically” lighter. (less)
Having been an androgynous girly-boy in the 80’s I empathized with the majority of Grave’s characters. There is no ambiguity here, these underage boys...moreHaving been an androgynous girly-boy in the 80’s I empathized with the majority of Grave’s characters. There is no ambiguity here, these underage boys want other underage boys, desperately, and will do whatever is necessary to get their attention and keep it, including: drugs, emulational falttery, and agreeing to anything they want to do like Monster Truck rallies, attacking girls, and letting them “stick it in.” The POVs in these stories are primarily children who have experience beyond their years, but not maturity. There is absolutely no parental guidance; in fact the few parents who appear are worse off than their dysfunctional children. Running counter to the above observations, the stories are fraught with an innocence and blind hope that can be endearing. As an editor it was gratifying to see 2 stories I had published in VelvetMafia.com in a larger setting, “Curls and Curls” and “Seahorse”, which are standouts in this volume. And this is a testimonial to the 80’s, with nostalgic homages to Pop Rocks, Happy Meals (with toys), Night Flight, “puffers,” Ritalin, and equal doses of Tiffany, Debbie Gibson and Def Leppard. Although on the slim side, this is a riveting one-sitting read that will take you to the wrong side of the tracks in Leomister (Lemon-stir, we are told it is pronounced), a polluted manufacturing town in Massachusetts. PS the presentation of the book by Chelsea Station Editions is beautiful.(less)