EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3)
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message 1: by Kaseadillla (last edited May 02, 2018 03:38AM) (new) - added it

Kaseadillla | 1371 comments Mod
Hello all - starting up discussions for the MAY 2018 BOTMs. For this month's theme of JAPANESE LITERATURE,, this discussion is for the group's poll selection for the MODERN CLASSICS/POPULAR READS category: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

This discussion will be FULL OF SPOILERS. If you have not read the book yet and don't want to ruin the ending, hop on over to the spoiler-free discussion HERE .

Happy reading!

SimitudeSims | 238 comments First off this is a very long book. I felt like I’d never be done. I bought it in hard back and if it weren’t such a beautiful book, I would have regretted it. My hands were practically numb by the time I was done. Having said that, I really enjoyed it. It surprised me right off the bat with her being an assassin. Lol, I thought she was a paralegal or something. The “not really” dimensional time stuff still confuses me. I’m well versed in time dimensions but this is different. I loved the characters. I felt they were flushed out thoroughly. The sex stuff was uncomfortable. It seemed next door to Misogyny. I man’s twisted dream. I didn’t feel that was necessary to the story. I think he could of used something less disturbing. It would take forever to mention everything so I’ll conclude on the ending. I was really glad he ended them not being on the correct world. I felt it was more interesting that way. The important thing is that it had the correct number of moons, lol, can’t be too bad.

message 3: by Mo (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mo (weneed_mobrown) | 30 comments I liked how there was a bit of ambiguity at the end, like how they might not have made it back to 1984, but I still don't understand the receiver/ perceiver part of the story and how the air chrysalis the Little People make fits in with that.

There were quite a few parts that I didn't like, mostly the repetitions of what people looked like and the weirdly over-sexualized character descriptions/ actions that seemed to come out of nowhere. It was like the author has this really artistic dream-like vision and story, but the teenage boy in him had to jump in and sex up some parts randomly.

message 4: by Sj (last edited May 16, 2018 07:33AM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Sj | 46 comments I just stopped reading it at 22% read.

I'm with you, Marysha, about the sex stuff. I found it really misogynistic and unnecessary to the story. Just stupid. Also deeply hypocritical given the plot-line of Aomame being an assassin of misogynists. Perhaps there is some hidden, special significance to this contradiction, but I just found it disingenuous.

I also found most of the writing utterly dull.

I try not to read too many reviews before I read something myself - just enough to get a bit of a feel. But if I start to really struggle with a book, I like to go and read the negative, 1 & 2 star reviews to see if the criticisms and complaints tally with mine. I found a few that really just seemed to be describing everything I was experiencing, and it seems those who finished it feeling this way wish they hadn't bothered. This convinced me that the story was unlikely to pick up for me and I stopped reading.

I came across this review, which not only cracked me up, but summed the book up perfectly, imo (including the comments section which covers a few aspects the review didn't). For anyone else who really didn't enjoy this book at all, I hope you get some enjoyment from this review, as I did - https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

message 5: by Mo (last edited May 16, 2018 09:08AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mo (weneed_mobrown) | 30 comments Sj wrote: "I just stopped reading it at 22% read.

I'm with you, Marysha, about the sex stuff. I found it really misogynistic and unnecessary to the story. Just stupid. Also deeply hypocritical given the..."

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA that was amazing! The comments only add to his perfect review! Thank you for sharing Sj

Kristin Ames (kmames) | 147 comments Okay so I’ve pretty much finished pt 1 of this saga and I am enjoying it way more than I thought I would (I was originally a little upset with its large size). Despite my enjoyment I agree on the sex stuff. I read a lot and frequently notice that many male authors tend to write female characters who have the sex brains of men. Not saying women can’t have a high sex drive nor enjoy casual sex, but the way Aomame approaches sex does not seem genuine and totally seems more like the author’s fantasy. I could spot Murakami’s lack of reality when it came to females and sex when he writes about Aomame’s night of heavy drinking when she has absolutely no memory of the previous night, but realizes she not only had vaginal sex, but anal sex as well and...it doesn’t seem to bother her one bit. What!! Not a realistic reaction to having no memory and then learning you participated in an orgy involving lesbian sex acts (two things of which Aomame previously expressed to not being into). Most of the sex stuff seems unnecessary and just a way for Murakami to get his rocks off.

Also, maybe I am not far enough into the novel yet, but aside from Orwell’s 1984 being mentioned in a few passages I don’t see how this book relates at all to Orwell’s 1984. Am I missing something?

Renee (elenarenee) My library finally got my copy. I realize from everyones comments how little i remember. I will be joining u all soon.

message 8: by Sue (new)

Sue Reluctantly, I decided to abandon this book. It's just too long to be this bad.

Good luck to those of you determined to last until the end.

Ella (ellamc) I finished a reread of this yesterday or the day before, and I left my five star review alone, but I had more issues with it this time through.

I do have a few thoughts on the physical depictions - this seems common in modern Japanese literature. It's something I've noticed in every modern Japanese book I've read. I thought hard about Murakami's depictions of women, but I made several notes where he treated men to the same nearly-obsessive physical descriptions, so I decided it's more even than misogyny.

I could have done without the constant depictions of pubic hair and nipple size. I didn't really see why the massive amount of sex was needed except perhaps -- and I'm not sure it works, but perhaps - it was to show how lonely the two main characters were. Lonely people do have anonymous sex. That's fine with me, but it felt nearly oppressively heavy with sexual depictions early on, so I was glad that in the latter pages it was far less constant. And I'm a person who read de Sade and The Story of O and more than a little bit of erotica. So it's not that I'm so very prudish, it's just that I didn't think it rose to the level of sexy ever - more gross, actually. (and here I'm not talking about the fantasy sex stuff, just the sex the two main characters have.)

Something else I've noticed in Japanese modern fiction is that writers are so careful to make character's behavior decent (he asked, but not in a demanding way. She stared, but it wasn't nosy...) So behavior gets treated far differently than physical looks.

Reading this again, I was reminded that it was Japanese fiction that made me rethink my desire to visit Japan. I'm far too neurotic to withstand knowing people are ticking off my every physical fault.

Thot Slayer (thot_slayer) | 2 comments I'm wildly amused that a popular vote decided that THIS should be the Murakami option. If everyone has read this but you, read a different Murakami book and then judge everyone who has read it for choosing one of the worst.

I liked this 'book' (I read the three volume behemoth that totaled more than 1,000 pages instead of the seperate volumes) but it was just too long for what it offered. Dance Dance Dance is a testament that Haruki can write a both long, and enjoyable, story but here it seems as though he gets very tied up in making it long and descriptive but then he ironically leaves plenty of arcs without conclusion. He kind of does the same thing in After Dark but it's forgivable, and perhaps even charming, because it's one of his shortest works - comparatively to what may be his longest endeavor.

I don't really have any moral objection to the portrayals of sexuality in this book - I find them to be descriptive to the point of clumsiness and think they would be better off more vague, quite often, though. I would say that they're the worst portrayals of sexuality Murakami has offered in my experience; but you'll be hard-pressed to find any good options where he navigates sexual power dynamics with the fluency of a progressive younger person.

I've read a lot of reviews of his work (after having read those books) and this, Kafka on the Shore, Norwegian Wood, and even the eroticism in Sputnik Sweetheart are all fodder for this type of criticism (and not without it's merit) I'm sure I could find more examples but I'm afraid I might have to list a large part of his bibliography and I'm lazy.

That being said, I think it's worth mentioning that Murakami novels are often described as 'Dreamlike' and I think it's in that lack of clarity towards what is and isn't real that the author is able to convincingly deliver the unbelievable - Aomame intending to kill a man whom is a cult leader and a rapist, only to find that he is a omniscient godlike character who saw this day coming and pleads with her to kill him for his benefit (not to mention all the 'little people' and their intentions that are motivating this) for example - but it also leaves a lot of room for things that are taboo in reality to become kind of a passing moment in fantasy.

I think what I've always taken for clumsiness (See: Him being nominated for the 2011 'Bad Sex Award' noted in The Guardian for the confusing and not very charming "sex" scene with Fuka-Eri,) or to be equal representation (I believe in this trilogy he physically over-describes all of his characters like 'pieces of meat', myself) what others find to be misogynistic: or perhaps I'm missing the mark here.

I'm a feminist and I already don't recommend this book so I'm not really looking for argument, but I'd love to hear more about what people found specifically misogynistic about this book - especially from women who found it so untenable to finish.

message 11: by Ella (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ella (ellamc) Thot Slayer wrote: "I'm wildly amused that a popular vote decided that THIS should be the Murakami option."

That was my reaction exactly. I've never seen this recommended as an introduction to Murakami, but judging how people reacted after the voting was over and this had won, many people didn't even notice the length, let alone do a close comparison of books. So, OK.

As you see from my comments above, I totally agree with you on the physical descriptions and the clumsiness of the sex scenes AND I don't think it is misogyny per se, I think he's an equal-opportunity obsessive detailer of physicality and sexuality. With men he tends to be sort of obsessed with ears, I've noticed.

The sex scenes seem even more silly and clumsy compared to the beauty of some other scenes (think of the Cat Town scene - hard to believe it's even the same writer.) I have wondered more than once if this is a problem of translation. I do believe it's a cultural difference that is even more stark when reading with an American background instead of a Japanese one.

I think of Murakami as a sort of fellow-traveler to David Mitchell (the writer, not the Mitchell & Webb one - though I'm a fan of both.) I'd describe them both as dreamlike, and that's one of the qualities I like very much about this book (which I consider one book - it would suck if it was just one part, and I don't see how it would actually work in parts. I dunno if I'd have moved on to the second book if all I read was book one.)

As a woman and feminist, but not a young woman or young feminist, I find it bizarre to be so put off early on by a description of sex or physical description that I'd stop reading, and I just purposely reread Junot Diaz short stories to see how I'd feel after the revelations about his behavior. I've survived some stuff in my life. One thing I've learned is that to get through the world, I need to be able to handle reading, seeing, hearing things I don't like in order to fight for what is right.

daniela (daniela_nieblina) | 336 comments DNF'd, and although I agree that the sex was hideous, the author a misogynist, and the story was going absolutely nowhere, those weren't the reasons I said 'f- this'.

You're not religious? Cool. You subscribe to only one belief and it a popular one where you live? Cool. You're weary of groups of people humming in a circle with goats blood on the floor and and forked tongues? Cool. But just because you don't understand a belief system does not mean you can make stuff up to "sensationalize".

This "Society of Witnesses" is obviously trying to depict my own religion, Jehovah's Witness, but its obviously so ignorantly unresearched, prejudiced, and xenophobic. And I mean, I'm used to people not understanding my religion, that's not a huge issue. And most what was written was pure trash anyways. But I basically stopped reading when Aomame compared herself to a raped child. No. No. Noooooooo. You did not just compare my childhood to that of a child who grew up in a sexual cult!

message 13: by KP (last edited May 22, 2018 06:54PM) (new)

KP | 42 comments Thot Slayer wrote: "I'm wildly amused that a popular vote decided that THIS should be the Murakami option. If everyone has read this but you, read a different Murakami book and then judge everyone who has read it for ..."

People didn't read the ratings or even notice how long the book was before they voted for it. Then they whined about how long it was.

79 people voted for it, and how many people read it? 8?

Kristin Ames (kmames) | 147 comments I agree with people needing to pay a little more attention to the length of the novels. I was even more surprised it was picked alongside I Am a Cat which is 600+ pages. I tried to slip in a passive-aggressive comment on the voting page pointing out the length, but it obviously did no good:)

Renee (elenarenee) I usually love this author. But I am not likeing this as much as his other books. It starts slow. I am going to keep plodding along but I will not finish with the group

message 16: by Debbie (new) - added it

Debbie Roberts (debblesthebookworm) | 40 comments I for one am really enjoying this book. I’m about 70% of the way through and still totallu in to it. Surprised that I seem to be one of the few who is enjoying it.

Kerri | 702 comments I was also surprised that people voted for this book without seeming to have done any research on it whatsoever but oh well, that’s their decision.

This was my first Murakami book, and though no one seems to have liked it much, I found it fascinating! The sex was a bit much, but not enough to leave this weird world that Murakami created. I was intrigued by the surrealism he made; someone said his writing is described as “dreamlike”? And I agree. I thought it was a nice blend of “reality” mixed up with straight-up WEIRD. Kind of like Inception - the dream in the dream and what is actually real?

I was waiting for the beginning taxi-driver’s words to take on meaning, to become something deeper. Maybe it does and it just went over my head - did he jump to/from another world? What was his tie to 1Q84? There are so many unanswered questions in this book it would be frustrating if it didn’t tie in so nicely with the dream-like quality of the story and characters. I’m sure I will agonize over it for awhile before shrugging it off.

I was super frustrated that Aomame and Tengo kept missing each other; I was audibly reacting each time it happened, but luckily I was alone then. Hahaha! But I am happy with the ending - not much matters as long as you are with loved ones.

Kristin Ames (kmames) | 147 comments Just finished the second volume and still enjoying it. Whenever I read a long book there is usually always a really slow spot where the story drags for a bit and I begin to get impatient, but so far that hasn’t happened. I am glad we readers finally got a decent synopsis of Air Chrysalis and how some of the questions are being answered. I am equally glad that Murakami has all chilled out (for the most part) on the sex bits cause some of them were just darn awkward. One more volume to go so I hope it ends well.

message 19: by Kerri (last edited May 25, 2018 06:30PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kerri | 702 comments So here is a list of questions I have come up with. I know most (if not all) of them have no real answers, but it could be interesting just to throw some ideas around? I really have no clue yet for any of it. Anyone have any hypotheses? Other questions? Theories?

Does anybody else care enough about this book to think about this?

In no particular order at all, just how I wrote them down:

1. What is the significance of Mr. Kawana (Tengo's dad) knocking on the doors in his coma of all 3 people in hiding (Fuka-Eri, Aomame, Ushikawa)? None of them were in a position to answer the door, or even look out the peephole, except possibly Fuka-Eri who just did what she wanted, but we didn't "see" that occurrence.

2. Fuka-Eri: dohta or maza? She is seemingly living as only a "part" of her whole self, she doesn't understand some concepts/words/ideas, she has extra-sensory perceptions and a deep knowledge of the Little People. Also, her personality is extremely different from when she was young according to the Professor. She is very similar to Tsubasa, and who knows what her deal was.

3. And regardless of which half she is, is her other half a shrine maiden? And does that mean all of the shrine maidens have dohta/maza splits? So Tsubasa would have been a shrine maiden as well?

4. Did Leader send Tsubasa to be found by the Dowager so that she and Aomame would plan to kill him so he could die as he wanted? She shows up and then leaves so quickly and it seems like such a coincidence. He wants to die and she just happens to come to be cared for by possibly the one person with the means and system to accomplish Leader's desire?

5. And what was with the Little People coming out of her mouth while she was sleeping, even though she was still alive? Is that proof of her being a maza? Is that part of their purpose - to serve as passageways for the Little People to come to the world?

6. Also, it is made clear that the Little People are able to make people fall into deep sleeps. There were many instances of people being like, "oh, I slept so deeply" and I was like, "LITTLE PEOPLE!!" but I couldn't find a connection/reason for why the little people would be there. Not so much a question but...just an oddity.

7. And what is up with the entire weirdness of Aomame becoming pregnant with Tengo's child through his intercourse (it was too weird to actually call "sex") with Fuka-Eri? I just, why? Was it to bring them together? Was that the entire point of the world of 1Q84? To fulfill their desires to find each other?

8. What was the purpose of Ushikawa's mossy-green tongue? I mean, he brushed his teeth every night, and he just happens to think, "let's check my tongue" and it is suddenly covered in mossy green? Like, he didn't notice before? It was very similar to people looking at the moon and then LOOKING at the moon and seeing both moons in the sky. And the little moon was also described as being mossy-green.

9. What is the purpose of the little people making an air chrysalis at the end through Ushikawa? Was his tongue an indicator of their appearance/passage? And why did they seem to only be able to come through the dead (or living in Tsubasa's case) who had gone through some intense suffering?

10. What is the significance of Aomame's and Dowager's anger leaving after the death of Leader? Was he somehow manipulating their anger? Or was it just a sort of release of "we accomplished this feat, and now I can let go of my anger" on a subconscious level?

11. Aomame and Tengo take the little one into a new reality. It is a type of air chrysalis, sort of, so will this open the way for the Little People to come into this new reality? Or will the baby now be a normal baby since that connection is severed and they are away from the influence of the green moon?

12. What is an Air Chrysalis?? What is it's purpose?

13. What is with the taxi driver's words of caution to Aomame at the beginning? "Don't let appearances fool you. There's always only one reality."

At some point, Murakami/Tamaru brings up Carl Jung's philosophy of the Shadow personality aspect (Carl Jung had a lot of archetypes, if I remember correctly) and I feel like that is somehow tied into this story. The Shadow (as summaried by Wikipedia) is:
"(1) an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself, or (2) the entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious. [Kind of akin to the idea of the dohta and the maza, from the way I saw it]

...Carl Jung stated the shadow to be the unknown dark side of the personality. According to Jung, the shadow, in being instinctive and irrational [like Fuka-Eri], is prone to psychological projection...These projections insulate and harm individuals by acting as a constantly thickening veil of illusion between the ego and the real world. [1Q84 vs 1984]

...Kaufman wrote that "in spite of its function as a reservoir for human darkness—or perhaps because of this—the shadow is the seat of creativity" [so Tengo comes in contact with a Shadow entity, immerses himself in that world, and then his own creativity is released/opened]"

message 20: by Kerri (last edited May 26, 2018 03:54AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kerri | 702 comments I forgot:

14+. Now that there are no Little People, are Aomame and Tengo still "on the run" from Sakigaki? Without the Little People, Sakigaki would theoretically still be a peaceful, vegetable selling compound with no ties to Aomame or Tengo. Would Aomame be able to contact the Dowager? Will she be Expecting contact from Aomame, and her job, and her apartment, and all of that? Will Tengo still have all the money from Air Chrysalis?

When they moved into 1Q84, it was almost unnoticable (especially for Tengo). But that seemingly small difference became a huge point in both of their lives. Now the threat is gone, (theoretically, that is how the book feels) so now what? Or does it not matter because hey, they are going to start a complete new phase of life anyway?

15. What in the world was up with Nurse Adachi?? She died and was reborn? The owl in the woods seemed to have a tie to the Little People but...that was a bit too metaphorical/deep/off-the-wall for me.

16. There were a couple of places where the Little People would say, "Ho ho" like in the Air Chrysalis. I remember when Aomame was on the expressway ready to shoot herself for sure, but there were other times too I would have to go back through and look for (at least once with Tengo). What was this significance?

The more I post these questions, the more I wonder if I understood ANYTHING this book was trying to say. Huh.

message 21: by NancyJ (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) Sj wrote: "I just stopped reading it at 22% read.

I'm with you, Marysha, about the sex stuff. I found it really misogynistic and unnecessary to the story. Just stupid. Also deeply hypocritical given the plo..."

That's very funny. I read some reviews during the voting stage, but none as funny as this one. When several reviewers said things related to misogyny and disturbing sex, I knew it's not for me. The length was a factor too because I had other books I wanted to read.

Renee (elenarenee) I am beginning to enjoy this book. I am finding many references to the other books I have read by Murakami. Its as if he has expanded on some of his earlier concepts

I remember when the book first came out. It sold on it first day. I myself much prefer his earlier works. This books emphasis on religious and sacred beliefs just is not what I want right now.

It almost seems as if religion is slavery or maybe oppression. I am not really sure what I am feeling. I will keep reading

Tammy I'm at the 400 page mark. No way I could put this down. I have to climb all the way down the ladder.

message 24: by Kelly (new) - added it

Kelly Hansen | 10 comments I was "reading" the audio book. 26 hours in (47 hours total) and I just can't take the long ridiculous descriptions of minutiea that doesn't move the story forward. As if it were necesarry to intimately describe the entire contents of the chick's suitcase--down to the color of the underwear. Good gosh.
Nor can I "read" any more of the not-even-sexy sex scenes. "His older married girlfriend rested his exhausted, left side hangs lower, testicles in her hand" like five times during one post-coital interlude--Dude, I really don't care.
Also, there are all these side stories that don't seem to lend themselves to the story--like why did we need to know, in such agonizing detail (again) the love life of her friend who suicided?
Anyway, I hate to quit a book half-way (less than half, really), but I can't do it.

Renee (elenarenee) I told a friend I was reading IQ84. He had some fun facts. He is a huge Murakami fan. I made a note to never bring up Murakmi again. He talked for ever. He is a nice guy but he didn't now when to stop. LOL

He told me that The Japan times said this book was a very good way for people to understand modern Japanese culture. I had a hard time believing this. It just seems so odd,

I wonder if this is true. I admit I know very little of life in present day Japan.I know they have wild game shows. I know they have colorful fashions but what is their day to day life like.

A side note. this friend had an eidetic memory as a child. As he grew older it changed. He now just has a very good memory. I used to think I wanted a photographic memory until he explained how it affected him.

This is far from my favorite Murakami but I am enjoying the read, This seems to be a very polarizing book. You love it or you hate it. I am going to keep reading

Tammy I finished 1Q84 last night and while it was not my favorite Murakami book that I've read, I did thoroughly enjoy reading it. Kerri...You raise some interesting questions (many I can't answer) that seem worth a discussion.

15) What is up with Nurse Adachi? I thought this might be Tengo's Mom reincarnated. Ushikawa, the private investigator, found out that Tengo's mom had been strangled. At their second meeting, Kumi (which means eternal/beautiful) Adachi tells Tengo that she remembers being strangled to death and being reborn. Interesting that maybe the family is together after all.

12) What is an Air Chrysalis? So a chrysalis is a hard outside case of an insect pupa (usually associated with butterflies...cocoons are for moths). Lots of references to encasements in this book. Ushikawa's sleeping bag is cocoon-like (he is more moth than butterfly). Aomame's womb for her child/dohta, but also the hardened shell around her heart. Remember the dowager with her butterflies. So the air chrysalis is what the little people build from which the dohta's emerge. Ultimately, I think the idea is that people are in a stage of emerging/transforming. There is so much isolation in the book. People are walled off from one another.

16. The little people say, "Ho Ho!" Just a thought...perhaps it is a snow white reference to the dwarfs who say, "Hi Ho." I mean, they are little people with an excellent work ethic. Lots of apple and sleep references in the book.

Anybody think it was funny that Aomame translates to Green Pea. The 2nd moon is mossy and green and a little misshapen. Kind of like a pea. The significance of Ushikawa's tongue turning mossy green is beyond me.

I think if we look at the book from a wider viewpoint, we might be able to better answer some of these smaller threads. The themes of isolation and cultism could be a good place to start. Also...taking a closer look at similarities and differences between 1Q84 and 1984 could help.

message 27: by John (new) - rated it 2 stars

John | 548 comments I am just now into vol 2. So waiting for the story to move along. There are times I feel like something happens quickly off page, but then stuff on page drags like some have mentioned. It is very interesting and such a different way of story telling. I am anxious to get through this thing.

Tammy Good luck, John. I really started to fly through the 2nd and 3rd parts.

Kerri | 702 comments Tammi, I can’t answer them either!! They were more curiosities that I wanted to get other views/opinions on and see what other people think :)

I did not even think of Nurse Adachi in connection with Tengo’s mom beyond, “man, people get strangled a lot in this book”. That is an interesting theory though! Especially in light of Tengo’s reoccurring vision/dream/whatever, and then the tie he made of maybe having become that man while his girlfriend (?) was in place of his mom (? I forget the specific details of when he was placing himself in that dream).

I liked the tie of all the imagery tied to air chrysalises, but I didn’t think about the cases around the characters’ hearts. So then the chrysalis is where their hearts/souls grow? And that’s why the Little People are neither “good” or “evil”, they just Are because they are enhancing people and people aren’t purely “good” or “evil”? I have no idea. I like how you put it though: “I think the idea is that people are in a stage of growing and emerging/transforming. There is so much isolation in this book. People are walled off from one another.”

I did think it was funny that Aomame is “green peas” and with the tie to the moon, there seemed to be a lot of ties, everything was woven together to all be connected. And then that brings the imagery of them pulling threads out of the air to creat this chrysalis...is the whole world a chrysalis?

I think I would need to re-read this book with a more critical eye to find some of the ties/answers/symbolism of this story.

message 30: by Ella (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ella (ellamc) For all the strong opinions in the book club when we do the picking, very few people seem to read the books...

I do think Murakami expresses like "all" of modern Japan (or at least tries to express a huge amount) in this book. More even than the story, he seems to be on a quest to show the world how Japanese society functions: what's important, what the customs are, how people think and react...

And at the same time he seems to be trying to show similar things about literature - some part of this book has almost all kinds of literature. There's a bit of noir, a bit of mystery, a bit of high literary fiction, a bit of criticism, essays, etc.

It's like he wants to push everything into this one book, and I've been increasingly wondering why this one? His other books are all much tighter and far fewer words to read. They all have a similar dream sense, and many of the same weird things/symbols and of course cats/ears/moons/music and wise teenagers, but none of them have such an overarching feel.

Anyone have thoughts on why this one? He's written lots since, so it wasn't his swan song. It may be his masterpiece, but I think some of the extras actually weigh down the book and make it less pleasing than some others.

Anyone have thoughts or know what he's trying to work out in this one?

message 31: by Renee (last edited Jun 07, 2018 08:43PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Renee (elenarenee) Apologies for that last post. I had written a longer comment that was sent early by my cat. I think she resents that I read this before I am cat.

I am loving the book. I have many things to say but little time. I agree with Ella. It sometimes feels like this book is trying to cover too much. It is a triumph of style but I prefer the more simple story telling of Norwegian Wood.

I will come back to this when I have finished the book.

Tammy I just finished Norwegian Wood Yesterday. For me, Wind up Bird and 1Q84 were far better. That is the fun thing about reading. Everyone enjoys their own thing

Renee (elenarenee) I also loved Wind up Bird. I am still working my way through IQ84. I am becoming more and more enthralled with the book. I think Iq84 is one of those books that builds and cannot be judged until completed.

Norwegian Wood was one of the first books I read by him. I was blown away by his use of words. I also enjoyed the coming of age /finding oneself storyline. It somehow resonated with me.

It has become a favorite of mine. I honestly can't say why. I just know I like it.

Tammy wrote: "I just finished Norwegian Wood Yesterday. For me, Wind up Bird and 1Q84 were far better. That is the fun thing about reading. Everyone enjoys their own thing"

message 34: by KP (last edited Jun 10, 2018 02:07AM) (new)

KP | 42 comments Renee wrote: "Apologies for that last post. I had written a longer comment that was sent early by my cat. I think she resents that I read this before I am cat.

I am loving the book. I have many things to say b..."

I would like to blame my dog for what I write.

message 35: by KP (last edited Jun 10, 2018 02:08AM) (new)

KP | 42 comments Kelly wrote: "I was "reading" the audio book. 26 hours in (47 hours total) and I just can't take the long ridiculous descriptions of minutiea that doesn't move the story forward. As if it were necesarry to intim..."

I appreciate your honesty. I didn’t get as far as you did. I checked the discussion to see if I was missing anything, and now I can rest easy. I’m glad I didn’t waste more time on it.

message 36: by John (new) - rated it 2 stars

John | 548 comments I am still working my way through this mess. I gave it a pass early because of the cultural, translation, and time frame differences. But I am about 3/4ers and if he says "large misshapen head" one more time I will punch my own face. The story is pretty much at a standstill. 3 hours of listening about little is advancing this story. Not even good plot development happening. Seems like useless detail.

message 37: by John (new) - rated it 2 stars

John | 548 comments Ella wrote: "For all the strong opinions in the book club when we do the picking, very few people seem to read the books...

I do think Murakami expresses like "all" of modern Japan (or at least tries to expres..."

Ella, for me I chose it simply because it won the Goodreads award in 2011 and it was by a Japanese author. What could go wrong? I for one don't see it. The story is intriguing but could very well have been about half the size.

message 38: by Marianne (new)

Marianne | 7 comments I loved this book! For me it has been a wonderful stay in Murakami's amazing universe. A book with all the famous Murakami characters, such as the cats, two moons, two worlds running parallel and two strong protagonists. Common to these two is that they are lonely, they have a drink, they do not think like others and they have a strong inner soul life. However, I miss the good conversations, they are a little absent - since the significant exchanges the main characters in between are primarily expressed through the eyesight or other gestures.

Murakami has a distinctive way of presenting women who become very visible in this book. There are strong women and he uses many metaphors that support this: the moons, motherhood, mother-daughter, women's fellowship, women who take revenge and longing for women who have played a major role in the lives of the actors. I think it is fascinating that Murakami with his Japanese background uses the feminine in the way he does.

In the book, sexuality is like others said more prominent than in previous books. Particularly women's sexuality. The woman is the sexual initiation teacher and she chooses and defines the sexual. Sex is used for different purposes and has a function. Men's sexuality is largely in a violent context, in the form of abuse. These men plays a role in the stories, and the aim of the women is to transport the men who use violence to the other side.

Maybe this book deepest set is about choices. Existential choices that govern life and affect the direction of the individual's destiny. It is also about the choices the individual has to make on a regular basis, the choice of being the one to act and to decide on who he wants to be.

At the same time, I must admit that I was disappointed by the end. I had so many questions and I found that many of them did not land in the end. What I can say is that I had expected more action at the end, and maybe also a real climax. Instead, it became quite tame. At the same time the book is a beautiful story of a love that lasts all and never goes out, no matter what happens.

message 39: by Anne-Kathrin (new)

Anne-Kathrin | 54 comments I finally finished, and well folks, you put together quite a discussion for me to catch up on ;-)

Like Marianne, I quite liked it, although I also feel that a lot of the sex stuff and often the particular kind of focus on the character's appearance was quite weird an unnecessary. I had to laugh very hard about Ella's comment on the constant description of pubic hair and nipple sizes. I think there is no better way to sum this up!

Like Kristin, I was super disappointed that there were no obvious 1984 connection (at least not obvious to me!). Kerri seems to think that the reference to Jung helps us out here, did I understand that correctly? If so, I'd love to hear more about it, because I don't quite get it yet...

For me, the first of Kerri's proposed questions (Mr Kamana's knocking on doors) is super important - reading those passages really gave me the chills. I also think that if Tammy is right and nurse Adachi is a connection to Tengo's mum, then Mr Kawana becomes even more interesting as a subject to focus on. What would we make of the fact that she "comes back" to take care of him (and hit on Tengo at the same time)?

I found the ending a little bit disappointing too, and I felt that Murakami is kind of taking the easy exit route biy just turning it into a love story. But I am happy to forgive that if the whole symbolism and reincarnation thing (which I don't quite get yet) makes up for it.

Laura | 230 comments Finally finished this book this week, took some time to gather my thoughts together and to be honest I found it really difficult to read this book this time round. It was a re-read for a buddy read, so by the time I got to page 500 I was so over it. It was a good job it was only a short number of pages a day because it was a real relief when I got to the end that’s for sure.

There were some really noticeable similarities with 1984 when I first started reading:

When Tengo described Komatsu as a person who you never know what they are thinking and how his expression was always the opposite of how he was feeling kind of reminded me about how all the people in 1984 had to put on a expression that kept them safe from the thought police but it never represented how they truly felt.

Then there was when Aomame climbed down the emergency stairwell into 1Q84 and noticed the change in the guns the police carried and then there was all this stuff that she couldn’t remember happening but everyone else could – reminded me of how the party members would change newspapers and sources of information to fit their agenda or what big brother had said to make them always right.

The next one was Tengo when he said Komatsu had no sense of time that really reminded me of when Winston was in the Ministry of Love ( I think it was ministry of love I can’t really remember).

Towards the end I then thought of the Professor; the way they call him The Professor as if he didn’t have a name reminded me of how Big Brother doesn’t have a name, everyone just calls him Big brother.

And the big one was the little people; they really reminded me of how in 1984 Big brother can always hear you through telescreens for example and The Little People can always hear everything you say hence why Fuka-Eri never really spoke of the Little People or anything to do with Air chrysalis

Then Ushikawa reminded me of O’brien and the shopkeeper for some reason; why I am not sure but he did. I do know I looked forward to his chapters the least he just got on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.

Maybe if it wasn’t a re-read I would have noticed a lot more but towards the end, I’ll be honest, I just couldn’t care less maybe because I knew what was going to happen so that made it a little less exciting. And I will admit the constant references to sex and women’s bodies especially Tengo’s infatuation with Fuka-Eri’s breasts really did start wearing thin before she disappeared.

My rating for it will stay the same as last time because those were my true feelings the first time i read it and i stick by that but it is probably down to a four this time round

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