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1Q84 (1Q84 #1-3)
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1Q84 - Spine 2013 > Discussion - Week Four - 1Q84 - Book 2, ch. 1 - 8

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message 1: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
This discussion covers Book 2, Chapter 1 – 8, p. 389 – 515


Tsubasa vanishes. Aomame and the Dowager contemplate two goldfish. Tamaru and Aomame discuss Chekhov’s gun. A monster crawls out from under a rock and offers Tengo a three million yen grant. Aomame practices handling her Heckler & Koch until she can do it in the dark. Tengo wonders if he would recognize the ten-year-old Aomame after all these years. Aomame prepares to meet The Leader, then says her last goodbye to the rubber plant. Tengo receives two phone calls that keep him up all night. Aomame meets Buzzcut and Ponytail and passes muster. Tengo visits his father by the seaside and discovers that his mother joined her body with a vacuum.


To avoid spoilers, please limit your comments to p. 1 - 515


message 2: by Whitney (last edited Jun 09, 2013 06:51PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Whitney | 326 comments I wonder if Tengo's pondering after reading the criticism of 'Air Chysalis isn't a bit personal for Murakami: "If an author succeeded in writing a story “put together in an exceptionally interesting way” that “carries the reader along to the very end,” who could possibly call such a writer “lazy"?"

Couple points of interest:

Ushikawa is a character in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Nothing I recall from that book seems necessary for an understanding of 1Q84, but it's been awhile.

The 'Town of Cats' story that Tengo reads is probably a reference to the Hagiwara Sakutaro story of the same name (the story is different from the one Tengo reads, but Murakami-like in atmosphere). It can be found in the collection The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, which my be the best collection of stories ever, IMHO. A used hardcover of the Sakutaro also seems to be available on Amazon for a mere $500.


message 3: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Whitney wrote: "I wonder if Tengo's pondering after reading the criticism of 'Air Chysalis isn't a bit personal for Murakami: "If an author succeeded in writing a story “put together in an exceptionally interesti..."

1Q84 certainly gives him plenty of opportunity to take shots at publishing. Murakami's stories feel autobiographical - even the weird parts. I imagine his pantry is well-stocked with spaghetti and his shirts are neatly ironed...

Any thoughts on how the Town of Cats story supports the main story? I mostly thought of it as being about an outsider - like Tengo and Aomame - and if you hide out for too long, you can't go back.


Mekki | 63 comments I was like what the f... why is Ushikawa here? I like how he brings the faustian element to the book.


message 5: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 3055 comments Mod
Mekki wrote: "I was like what the f... why is Ushikawa here? I like how he brings the faustian element to the book."

I was wondering if "Ushikawa" was the Japanese translation for "Mephistopheles"... You're right that Ushikawa seems to be a servant of some dark power. Even though he continues to offer Tengo safety and funding, there is still a whiff of burning brimstone in the air.


Whitney | 326 comments Jim wrote: "Any thoughts on how the Town of Cats story supports the main story? I mostly thought of it as being about an outsider - like Tengo and Aomame - and if you hide out for too long, you can't go back..."

Oooo, I like that. People's interpretations of the Town of Cats was / is one of the things I'm looking forward to in this discussion. Another is Tamauru's joke about the vegetarian cat, which I thought was hilarious but not sure exactly how it fits the bigger picture.

Personal story, the 'Town of Cats' section was published in the New Yorker before 1Q84 was released. I read it while waiting at a bus station late at night for a bus that was seemingly never going to show up (the bus was about 40 minutes late in the end). Pure reading kismet!


message 7: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca | 1 comments I have finished the three IQ84 books and am interested to read that Ushikawa is a character from another story. I will have to go and read that now. As for the Town of Cats i thought the story demonstrated that sometimes once we make a decision it changes everything and we cannot go back.


Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments Rebecca wrote: "I have finished the three IQ84 books and am interested to read that Ushikawa is a character from another story. I will have to go and read that now. As for the Town of Cats i thought the story demo..."

I think I got a similar message from the Town of Cats story that Rebecca shared in Message 7 of this thread.

I love stories like the Town of Cats, but when I got to the end I felt very depressed and empty about my own life. It's a very philosophical and psychological story, in my opinion. And I believe that each person who reads the story will see it differently, depending on where he/she is (in their life) when they read it.


Barbara (barbarasc) | 249 comments What does everyone think about the dowager?? Up to this point in the story, we really don't know a lot about her background. (Yes, we know about her daughter's suicide which is supposedly the reason she started the "Safe House.")

But has anyone noticed that the "Safe House" really is not very safe?? ONE GERMAN SHEPHERD GUARD DOG? Come on!! The dowager seems to have a hell of a lot of money. Why doesn't she hire more security guards? And isn't it odd that Tamaru is the ONLY person who seems to work for the dowager? He's the security guard, the secretary (schedules her appointments), the butler, cook, servant, handles the payments from the dowager to Aomame, AND..... HE GOES HOME AT NIGHT AND SLEEPS IN HIS OWN HOME!!!!

Yes, I understand that the dowager may have "trust issues" which may be the reason she doesn't want a lot of people working in her household, but she certainly trusts Tamaru and he is extremely sharp. So why doesn't she ask Tamaru to hire trustworthy bodyguards, and for crying out loud, how could there not be any overnight security, other than one guard dog (who, sadly, is killed).

Also, regarding the dowager, she told Aomame that she thinks of her as her own daughter. Really? I don't think that my mother, no matter how strongly she felt about the importance of the "leader" to be killed, would be sending me out on such a dangerous mission.

(BY THE WAY -- I ABSOLUTELY LOVE 1Q84, but I'm just a bit more than perplexed about the killing of individual men, hand picked by the dowager.) And yes, I do realize that I need to suspend all disbelief when reading a book such as this, which I have done -- I do believe that Aomame keeps seeing two moons, I do believe that the Little People exist. But the story line about the dowager seems very strange to me.

Killing individual men who commit horrible sexual crimes to young woman is NOT going to make the crimes go away. I personally do not know how to make these crimes go away, but, as Tamaru said to Aomame (and I do not remember the exact words, but it was along the line of this: "I don't know why the two of you are on this mission. There will never be an end to it.")

I'm only up to the part in the book where Aomame is brought in by Ponytail and Buzzcut to meet the Leader, so I don't know what happens next. Obviously Aomame survives, because there are still 600 pages in the book, so it will be very interesting to see how Marukami manages this.


Whitney | 326 comments Barbara wrote: "What does everyone think about the dowager?? Up to this point in the story, we really don't know a lot about her background. (Yes, we know about her daughter's suicide which is supposedly the reaso..."

I had a housemate who worked at a shelter for battered women. What makes them a safe house is that the abusers don't know where they are, not that they have armed guards 24/7. The one in 1Q84 is probably fairly optimal, as safe houses go.

The dowager is an interesting character. Usually wealthy people in her position would have more servants, but given the nature of her activities and her inherently private nature, it doesn't strike me as inconceivable that she would choose to live as simply as she does.

There are a few point about the dowager that came up in antother discussion. She refers to on of the butterflies as 'this little person', and says that the butterflies "come out of nowhere….and diasappear into nothingness again, perhaps to some other world". She is describing them in terms that make them sound like the little people. Is there an implication that the dowager is more involved in the world of 1Q84 than is immediately apparent, whether consciously or not?

Regarding your objection to the actions of the dowager and Aomame. They way I read it, I don't think Murakami is presenting what they do as the 'correct' response to violence against women. He is presenting the actions of two people who have been damaged by their experiences. They are forever trying to make up for their impotence in preventing the harm that came to people close to them before. I don't get the idea that Murakami necessarily expects us to agree with their actions, but more that we understand their actions.


Mekki | 63 comments I was thinking the same thing, that aomame and hr dowager kill out of anger, a sort of vigilante vengeance. Sort of like batman. :). if you noticed aomame is sorta like a super hero, physically fit, athletic, rich sponsor. btw what's up with. aomame's face?


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