21st Century Literature discussion

1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3)
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April 2012 - 1Q84 by Murakami > 1Q84 - General Discussion (No Spoilers)

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Will (wjmcomposer) For general discussion of the book. Don't give anything away!


Mikela I can't wait until everyone has read this book and is ready to discuss.


Cyn | 12 comments I am starting today! Yay!


Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) | 11 comments I read this last year and can't wait to discuss it with you


Ellie (EllieArcher) | 84 comments Me too-I loved this book.


Mrandrebb Can. Not. Wait to hear what you all thought of it.


Jason Baldwin-Stephens | 131 comments Hoping to start it within the next few days. I've heard nothing but good things about it and can't wait to read it.


Will (wjmcomposer) I've been pre-reading it for the discussion (since I'm apparently leading it) and I have to say it's amazing so far. If you were on the fence about reading this, give it a chance. It's challenging in a strange way, but gripping (again, in a strange way)


Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) | 11 comments Will wrote: "I've been pre-reading it for the discussion (since I'm apparently leading it) and I have to say it's amazing so far. If you were on the fence about reading this, give it a chance. It's challenging ..."

I agree. I put off reading it for ages and then another GR reading group forced my hand. I am glad that it did. It is an amazing and stunning read. I highly recommend it.


Cyn | 12 comments Will wrote: "I've been pre-reading it for the discussion (since I'm apparently leading it) and I have to say it's amazing so far. If you were on the fence about reading this, give it a chance. It's challenging ..."

1Q84 is fantastic! Since I am without students and a job for the week due to Spring Break (yay), I decided to jump in ahead of schedule. I feel a bit perplexed right now (page 130) but I guess the confusion will clear up some as I progress.


Jason Baldwin-Stephens | 131 comments Just read the first chapter and I'm quite intrigued.


message 12: by Sophia, Honorary Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sophia | 1322 comments Mod
I'm really enjoying this. In fact it's addictive!


Will (wjmcomposer) It's been tough with two trips in a week (next off to L.A. thursday), but I've been loving the book so far. Every chapter unfolds a new layer, less like an onion peeling back to reveal a new, smaller onion, but like an origami onion that as radians of it fold out from underneath itself transform into entirely new shapes that begin to suggest various forms before settling into a new and unidentifiable one. I don't know where we're going, but the ride is amazing.


Victoria (vikz writes) (VixtoriaVikzwrites) | 11 comments Will wrote: "It's been tough with two trips in a week (next off to L.A. thursday), but I've been loving the book so far. Every chapter unfolds a new layer, less like an onion peeling back to reveal a new, small..."

A wonderfully description of this book.


Cyn | 12 comments Will wrote: "...I don't know where we're going, but the ride is amazing. ..."

I could not agree more with your description, Will. I am wondering where, when, and if Aomame and Tengo's lives intersect.

Thrilled with this book! Great selection.


Jason Baldwin-Stephens | 131 comments Haven't had a lot of time to read so far this week and I'm only on chapter 7 now. I'm reading the ebook version of the novel and it seems like an awful lot of the chapters are all right around 13-15 pages (aside from the first 2 which were a bit longer).

It may be nothing, as I usually don't pay attention to chapter length all that much, but with a novel like this I sometimes wonder if something like that is intentional for reasons other than just the author's stylistic preference.


Will (wjmcomposer) I'm wondering if it's to keep the two arcs (Aomame and Tengo) fairly close together, to not allow the reader to spin off too far without the other.


message 18: by Shay (last edited Apr 03, 2012 03:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Shay | 5 comments I think Murakami wanted to not run on and on with one life, then backtrack and catch you up on the other's ife. He wanted them to run sort of parallel. The dates in the book are very important and very closely match the timelne set forth in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. There's just a month's difference. I think you'll see that the two books are also parallel to each other in many ways- including sharing a character.


Mrandrebb I wouldn't want to make too many guesses about what it's supposed to do, since it was originally published in three Japanese volumes released over a few years, and was translated to English in two sections by two different translators. At all points in this process it would have been affected by things like Japanese conventions, market considerations, and personal style. Plus, fifteen-page chapters seem pretty slim when they're stuffed inside the 944-page English book. In the original volumes, which were 250-300 pages apiece and released one at a time to leave readers starving for more, they probably seem a little more substantial.

With all that said, the style is definitely used to good effect to keep the Tengo and Aomame stories intertwined and, I think, to suggest a kind of connection between them besides logical cause-and-effect.

Murakami followed a very similar pattern of alternating chapters in Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which alternates chapters between the "real" world and a surreal "village" and which was, incidentally, an insanely good book. If you want to probe his style more, or if you just like his writing and want another great, great book, try it out -- its plot is nothing like 1Q84, in case I've given the impression that the two books are clones.


Mrandrebb Shay wrote: "I think Murakami wanted to not run on and on with one life, then backtrack and catch you up on the other's ife. He wanted them to run sort of parallel. The dates in the book are very important and ..."

That's really interesting. I don't know Wind-Up Bird so well (it's been years, and I didn't like it much for some reason...I should give it another shot). I'd love to hear more about the connection between the two books.


Shay | 5 comments Mrandrebb wrote: "Shay wrote: "I think Murakami wanted to not run on and on with one life, then backtrack and catch you up on the other's ife. He wanted them to run sort of parallel. The dates in the book are very i..."

Maybe at the end of the discussion for 1Q84, since mentioning the similarities are spoilerish. Except, I can say they both take place in 1984. Wind-Up Bird opens in June, 1984. They share a character, but I don't want to mention his name because that may be slightly spoilerish, too.


Mrandrebb Shay wrote: "Mrandrebb wrote: "Shay wrote: "I think Murakami wanted to not run on and on with one life, then backtrack and catch you up on the other's ife. He wanted them to run sort of parallel. The dates in t..."

For sure. In the meantime, I'll do some more reading on my own -- thanks for the tip.


Jason Baldwin-Stephens | 131 comments Ahh! I didn't know this was originally published in three volumes and also looks like I will be checking out The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle at some point in the near future.


Cyn | 12 comments The cover art is very interesting. Comparing the Japanese, UK, and US versions there are stark contrasts. I find the UK version the most intriguing with its butterflies, dual moons, and gnarled branches against the greyish background.


Barbara | 5 comments I've tried twice now to read the book and can't seem to make it more than a third of the way in. It hasn't been engaging for me. Not sure why. Does it get more exciting?


message 26: by Sophia, Honorary Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sophia | 1322 comments Mod
In my opinion, it does! But if you've tried it twice then it sound like it's not for you.


Adam | 32 comments Just started the audiobook - couple of hours in - narration and story are fantastic


Carl | 262 comments I know this may be contrarian, but while I enjoyed the story, I thought the writing was not very good at all. There was too much repetition and too much talking-down to the reader. It was ponderous in its simplicity of language. I don't know how much of that is translator and how much is the author trying to be commercial and trying to sell a book that people of any level of reading comprehension could enjoy.

I'm currently reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and I find the writing is far more enjoyable. It doesn't slap you like a cheap piece of pop fiction. I can't put my finger on all of the factors that make the language of the two books so different, but that is an extremely important factor for me in my enjoyment of fiction, so I found 1Q84 aggravating, to say the least, despite the great story. If it weren't for the good story, I would have dropped this one 10% in...


Adam | 32 comments @Carl: I am around Chapter 12 now and I am noticing the same thing with the prose. I am still engaged with the story, but in a few spots the repetition has been borderline annoying. I was wondering if that was used stylistically to convey (what I assume to be) the discrepancy between two realities. Some of the sexualization of characters leaves me smirking too, particularly as relates to Aomame. Is it coincidence of author fantasy that the young heroines in both 1Q84 and Steig Larsson's Millenium trilogy have a thing for middle-age guys?


Cees Bood | 9 comments A very nice story, but I fully agree with the critics from Carl.


message 31: by Sophia, Honorary Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sophia | 1322 comments Mod
I know what you mean about the repetition. I'm listening to this book so it's probably not as annoying as reading it on the page.

I'm well into Part Two now and it's become quite addictive. In fact, I found it hard to go to sleep last night, because the whole world has begun to look very different!


Carl | 262 comments Adam wrote: "Some of the sexualization of characters leaves me smirking too, particularly as relates to Aomame. Is it coincidence of author fantasy that the young heroines in both 1Q84 and Steig Larsson's Millenium trilogy have a thing for middle-age guys? "

Yes, Adam, I had forgotten about the almost raw sexism (from the point of view of relying on strong prejudices), but I think these may be cultural disparities between Japan and the US or Sweden and the US.


Mrandrebb Some of these comments are pointing to specific episodes in the book so much that I don't want to respond to them here for fear of spoiling parts for people who haven't reached them yet. Maybe we could jump to the thread for the relevant book to talk in detail.


Donald Baker Just joined. I'm behind on this one. It is in my que for reading next. I plan on joining the discussion as soon as I finish the book I am reading now (The Sisters Brothers).


Will (wjmcomposer) I think the repetition is deliberate, and as you continue (provided you do) you'll feel it part of the concept.

I don't entirely agree on the level of the prose. Is it thick and wordy? No. Is it focused on the melody of the English language? As a translated work, I think it's difficult to expect that, but I'm not sure that's the point either.

For me, it's gripping, and involving, dialog is normal, and description is colorful, and certainly not bland. I'm sure we can get more involved in the specific section threads, however.


Glynis (MissGMad) | 6 comments Hi all - I've been asked why this book changed my life. Not in an obvious way, but it's interesting all the same that a book, or rather its characters, can inspire you to make positive changes to your life. At the time of reading it I knew I had to lead a healthier lifestyle (I was a smoker, boo) but lacked self-discipline. Reading how Aomame and the dowager treated their bodies as temples, the detailed descriptions of the healthy food they cooked and ate, their daily exercise routines...well, that's what inspired me. I kept telling myself, exert some self-discipline girl! So I did. I gave up smoking in December, now exercise every day and experiment more with my cooking. I feel tons better and when I am exercising I often think of Aomame and attribute my new lifestyle to her. There has only been one other book that inspired me to make huge positive life changes. I bet you weren't expecting that about 1Q84? :)


Jason Baldwin-Stephens | 131 comments Glynis wrote: "Hi all - I've been asked why this book changed my life. Not in an obvious way, but it's interesting all the same that a book, or rather its characters, can inspire you to make positive changes to y..."

That's fantastic, Glynis!


message 38: by Sophia, Honorary Moderator (last edited Apr 23, 2012 03:12AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sophia | 1322 comments Mod
Glynis wrote: "There has only been one other book that inspired me to make huge positive life changes. I bet you weren't expecting that about 1Q84? :) "

No, I wasn't expecting this of 1Q84. Well done you!

What was the other book? Was it a work of fiction? I ask, because although there have been books that have changed my life, they've never been works of fiction (!)


Glynis (MissGMad) | 6 comments Thanks :) In reply to Sophia it was Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. It helped give me the strength and resolve to get out of a bad relationship.


message 40: by Sophia, Honorary Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sophia | 1322 comments Mod
Thank you for sharing!


Will (wjmcomposer) Thanks so much for sharing your story! It's really interesting how a work of fiction can inspire changes in one's life. I know there have been several that have done so with me. I personally love seeing strong smart female characters in books, because I teach children around ages 7-12, and I see so many young women who are beginning life with the same old female repression we've beaten down women with for centuries.

P.S.: best argument for being a feminist (as a man)? I'm a man, and I love women. Feminism is pro-woman, and so am I.


message 42: by Lily (last edited Jun 10, 2013 12:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (Joy1) | 1256 comments Really glad I took on 1Q84. I'd read or listened to at least two other Murakami novels and wasn't sure I was ready for another just now. But this one is "easy" compared with Kafka on the Shore. I'm not a great fan of magical realism, but Murakami "works" for me -- not certain I can clearly express "why." Perhaps just because he takes the magic or fantasy to such extremes that the realism emerges?

Sorry not to have been reading at the same time as the group, but I am grateful for your discussions I have found here.


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (other topics)
1Q84 (other topics)