Brian's Reviews > 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
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Dec 04, 11

Read from November 22 to 29, 2011 — I own a copy

(4.5) Really good, quite heavy (literally)

I read this in hardcover and it was quite a load to carry around, let alone hold up with one hand on the train. But totally worth it. You'll just have to read it to appreciate how intricate and entertaining the read is. You should probably read it as an ebook, though you might not enjoy the quirky features of the paper version:
* okay, really high quality paper that was a pleasure to page-turn (no, really, it's noticeable!)
* "1Q84" shows up in the center of each margin, though on the right-hand pages, the characters are reversed, as in a mirror.
* the page numbers move up and down on the pages, like see-saws (if the number is high on the left. then it'll be low on the right).
* whichever page number is below the '1Q84' is written in reverse, so this alternates between the left side and right side every 20 pages or so.
* the rice-paper-like dust jacket and cover is a pretty cool effect too.
But just check these out at a bookstore and you should be set. (UPDATE: don't fall into the publisher's schemes to prevent--futile--or delay the adoption of ereading: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/04/boo...)

The key here for me were the plots. A few things you had to just accept, or suspend disbelief, or just hope that in the end they'll make sense, and in most cases this works. The different narratives weave together and just as described in the novel, they start getting closer together, swirling faster and faster as in a whirlpool. This made the reading get more and more intense as the novel progressed. Very satisfying. :)

I was reminded of something my friend, David, said which is that often Asian literature is without good or evil, even if bad things happen to good people (and vice versa). I think that applies here as well.

Healthy dose of supernatural (er, call it magical realism?) and matter-of-fact sexual situations as well, so felt very Murakami (wait, can I say that after only having read one before?).

I made the mistake of reading Murakami, then David Mitchell's number9dream and back to Murakami in about a month's time, so the two authors are now quite conflated in my mind.

One tidbit I got from the The Economist review: kyu is 9 in Japanese, so this is cleverer of a title than the explanation that Aomame named it 1Q84 with Q just representing 'question'.

The only criticisms I have are minor:
* he seems to think that the moon is only out at night. or possibly in this novel the moon is locked in orbit around the earth? but i know he mentions a 3/4 moon and 2/3 full moon, so it should be going through its usual phases
* the novel is so long i think he felt compelled to do some recapping at times. too bad, though made it feel more like a serial, which might've been a fun way to read this because of the chapter structure.
* in the third book, toward the end, he started to stray a bit from the third-person limited omniscient voice a bit. he started referring to things that only a reader of the novel could know or care or put together (though we could certainly do that for ourselves)...filling us in on the fact that certain events had taken place (in previous chapters) that the current chapter's characters didn't know about. this was unnecessary (he fills in plenty of detail so we should know what is being revealed already) and broke the 'rules' of his narrative. i think this was done because sometimes the events in different chapters were happening concurrently, sometimes in slightly reverse order and so forth, so the exact timing wasn't totally clear. this became more critical in the later chapters as the narratives rapidly spiraled toward one another in a whirlpool.

There were a few typo bugs that I may get to later.
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Comments (showing 1-8)




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message 8: by Louise (new)

Louise I need to know your secret. How did you read this massive book in only 7 days? Is your train that long?


Brian read a TON over thanksgiving. :)


message 6: by David (new) - added it

David Do you know if this was abridged at all? The Wind-Up Bird was and it was still 600+ pages. My roommate is complaining about carrying this book around too.


Brian i don't know about abridgment. i was wondering if it was actually published separately in japanese as there's "book 1" "book 2" "book 3" but that may just be part of the book design (there's a 1 at the beginning, then a Q between book 1 and book 2, 8 between 2 and 3, and a 4 at the end).


Brian oh, yeah i guess they were published separately too: http://www.goodreads.com/series/64091...


Crystal The book was originally separated into three books in Japan, if I am not mistaken. It is all clumped together in North America. Nice review :)


message 2: by Raya (last edited Mar 19, 2012 12:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Raya I am reading it now, almost done, and loving it. It really is too heavy though, it made me buy an ereader, something I never thought I´d do, but it was well worth the investment!


Erin Daily your right the hardcover is too big to carry around. I'm half way through and it's my first book of his I have read and I love his writing style.


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