Alex's Reviews > 1Q84: Books One and Two

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
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's review
Dec 27, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: german, great-works

1Q84 has a current, a calm, strong, smooth flow that runs through the book, pulling you in and pushing you forward through its thousand pages. I got the German version of parts 1 and 2 as a gift last year, when it came out 9 months before the American edition, and on my second attempt last fall got really into it. It's unpacked Murakami -- less dense than some of his other books, but longer and more spread out. (That worked well for me, reading it in my second language.)

The two stories, alternating by chapters, slowly connect and then slowly converge; around page 600 things the story hit critical mass for me, and every chapter became exciting. It's like a TV show whose season-long plot slowly unfolds, until two-thirds of the way through the story picks up and every episode brings something big and new. (The book has a distinct written-in-the-modern-TV-era feel in its pacing and its transitions, a comment not to be taken negatively.)

1Q84 was also my first big experiment with marginalia, the practice of writing in the margins. I'd written in books before, making notes and self-explanations in scholarly works, but this time I decided to try with a novel. I started just highlighting and defining words I didn't know, but soon moved into commentary, writing my thoughts, highlighting interesting passages, and in an only slightly exaggerated way having a conversation with myself about the characters, the story, and the author. (I can also track my reading habits by the pen switches and jaggedly lines from reading on the U-Bahn.) :)

I'm glad I did; writing deepened my interaction with the book and made reading a more expressive and emotionally involved process. It took many years to get used to writing in books, but apparently it's a long and storied tradition, and one I intend to continue with the third volume of 1Q84, which I'm off to buy now, and future books (including this history of marginalia).

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