Mary Shyne's Reviews > 1Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
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Mar 25, 12

Read in January, 2012

I tried to figure out for the longest time what my beef is with this book, and only by stumbling across a spam comment not blocked by Akismet did I realize what style the prose recalled. Compare the below spam comment to any stretch of prose in 1Q84:

"After reading this post, its my sincere feeling that you have the exact idea of what are you deliberating.I seriously wish to applaud you for zeal for the work you own that has helped you stand today at this stage.Genuinely,there has not been even a time that I have gone through your blog and went without getting some good information.Keep it up."

SOUND FAMILIAR?

Anyway, the clumsy language might be a translation issue, but that still doesn't account for the grinding repetition. The only good that's come from the repetition is inside jokes between my book club -- everything is "without a doubt" and "simply prepared" among us now.

Words and phrases aren't the only things repeated here, but a weird fixation with the disparate size of Aomame's breasts and the sparseness of her pubic hair. Honestly, these seemed to be her defining characteristics. She was the least interesting assassin character in the history of literature, I'd wager. Tengo wasn't much better, and these are our two protagonists, whose "Serendipity"-written-by-Rod-Serling story we're supposed to invest in. They're just so ... BLAND.

And don't even get me started on Fuka-Eri. She is the manga equivalent of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl -- let's call it the Autistic Big-Breasted Mystery Girl. Kind of feels like Murakami copy-pasted Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion.

The only character who is really interesting is Ushikawa, but in the actual plot structure, he is completely unnecessary. I'm struggling to think of one plot point he advanced. His chapters just summarized what we already knew. I liked the editor too, but he disappears in the third act completely, and it's not a productive disappearance. I almost wish Murakami went more into the shady-book-business end of it, although it probably wouldn't fit into this book. Not that Murakami had a problem with fitting OTHER things into this book that didn't fit.

What I will give Murakami points for is the Little People. I was legitimately creeped out by then, only made worse by the fact their existence isn't entirely resolved. The Little People are the only aspect of this book (save for Cat Town, Cat Town forever), where Murakami's strategy of never explaining anything legitimately works. And I'm not sure why it doesn't work for the other aspects of this book -- I've really enjoyed Murakami's literary technique of purposeful obfuscation in the past. "Kafka on the Shore"? Dug it. "Wind-Up Bird Chronicle"? The most enjoyable nightmares I've ever had. My reading group compatriot suggested it was because this book was in third person, and none of the characters really had any motivation. Me? I think Murakami just needed an editor with enough confidence to edit somebody who's become a living literary legend. Unfortunately, nobody had the balls.
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