Lehman book club discussion

1Q84 > comments about book

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message 1: by Tom (new)

Tom Lehman | 7 comments I am going to try instead to respond to one of your posts, and see if that works.

message 2: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (elizabethintexas) | 22 comments Tom wrote: "I am going to try instead to respond to one of your posts, and see if that works."


message 3: by Tom (new)

Tom Lehman | 7 comments OK - so, here are the main things I wrote about before, but got lost somehow when trying to post (this time not going to spend so much time on it... in case SNAFU occurs again).

I am now about the middle of 'book two' in 1Q84, and had some thoughts (no 'spoilers' so OK to read if not so far into book yet).

1) I wondered if there was any other way to tell this sort of story (two stories, actually) where you (as reader) are going back and forth in a clock-like manner from one story/character to the other story/character... and you imagine that somewhere down the line the two stories will meet, and you will see then how they are connected... I am now at the middle of book two, and the two stories are just now being connected (although relationship is intimated at points along the way). Anyway, I have read a lot of stories that follow this sort of format (Willa Cather's come to mind) and I cannot think of any other way to do it... just wondering... maybe there is no other way.

2) This guy Murakami is really very very good at slowly, steadily, tediously, step-by-step, inch-by-inch building tension and more tension, until it is damned maddening. He creates a small piece at a time this feeling of unease, hidden danger, and mystery as you follow the characters along... and you become actually fearful about what may happen in the next chapter. I do not read mysteries (as you know) and so this may just be something that a good mystery writer does - and I am just unfamiliar with it. Like the characters in the story, who feel that they are on a boat going down a river, toward a waterfall, but now it is too late to get out, and you are just all in it together, no changing course. A very good job I suppose for this sort of story-telling.

3) Murakami has references throughout to 'western' pop culture, literature, music, and so on... I find this interesting, since the book was obviously intended primarily for a Japanese reader - had to be translated - but, still has a very 'Japanese' sort of writing style or phrasing. I found the same thing in Cixin Liu's 'Three Body Problem' and sequels... just interesting. It seems that in Japan (and China) maybe the literary class at least, is much more familiar with 'western' literature and history, than we are of any 'eastern' culture, etc.

message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Doskocil (soverview) | 25 comments In response to your topics, Dad:

1) I feel like I still don't know what the real story is here, so I can't say if it could be written differently. It is interesting to see the slow interweaving of the two stories, and it could be that that is the main point of the novel, how in real life "stories" intertwine and can not be separated.

2) I am also appreciating Murakami's style. For a book as long as this one is, it doesn't seem to have a lot of extra meat that could be cut out. So far everything seems very purposeful. I am enjoying that aspect of the book. There are several mysteries going on right now that he is juggling without it seeming difficult: The main two chracters' stories, Fuka-Eri's story, Fuka-Eri's parents' story, the Little People, the girl who sent in Fuka-Eri's story to the competition, etc. So far we've been presented with a lot of different questions, and no answers. It's very well done, in that I am not, yet, frustrated with the lack of progress in finding answers.

3) Western culture, in my experience is very popular in Japan, but it is very interesting the things that have grabbed their society's interest and the startling gaps in their knowledge. There are several aspects of western culture that Japanese people probably know better than most western people, classical music, for example, and classic art, literature and philosophy. Those things seem to be taught at a public school level, and retained, while they are neglected here. It is shameful on our part, in my opinion. There are several Japanese classics that an educated person should probably read, and I (with a degree in Literature!) have not read one. It's not just the lack of knowledge of other cultures, however, but also the lack of knowledge of our own culture that is embarrassing. Instead we devote our time to figuring out how many "genders" there are and other aspects of pop culture.

message 5: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth (elizabethintexas) | 22 comments Sometimes in a novel with two intersecting storylines, it is jarring when the author switches from one to the other, but so far that doesn't seem the case with 1Q84. Murakami seems like a pretty good technician - he is switching back and forth with such ease, not lingering too long with one character before the switch, that it is no more irritating than watching a tennis match. I don't care for this style of storytelling in general, so I was disappointed when I found we would be changing between Tengo and Aomame, but so far, so good.
About Americans' lack of knowledge about Japanese culture, I think a lot of it has to do with lack of interest or curiosity. American women of means who are my age (who determine where vacations will be taken) are not interested in Japan, China, or Korea. Look at Margaret, for instance; she has been everywhere except the Far East and now she is repeating destinations rather than go to the Orient. Everyone I know has been to Europe, but I am almost the only one I know who has visited Japan or China, and that is thanks to Sarah. In people of Sarah's generation and younger, the Manga fad has given rise to a superficial interest in Japan, but Kessley demonstrates how shallow that interest really is. When she found out that she couldn't actually visit the Village of the Golden Leaf (or whatever that manga quest location was), she no longer wanted to go to Japan. I don't know why cultural curiosity and interest only flows from East to West, but we obviously don't value the Far East as much as we value maximizing gender boxes and Lady Gaga's meat dress.

message 6: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Doskocil (soverview) | 25 comments I really enjoyed this line in the book: "he stood out like a centipede in the sugar bowl."

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