Friday, March 29, 2013

So many questions

Reading Haruki Murakami's latest novel, 1Q84, feels like having your favorite dish at an expensive restaurant and then realizing that the chef has changed the recipe. The chef might not have scrimped on the ingredients, but he certainly has changed the flavor. You expect to be satisfied but end up really wanting.

I love Murakami. One of my favorite books is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and I enjoyed Sputnik Sweetheart and Dance Dance Dance. But 1Q84 is a totally different animal. It's as if Murakami is taunting us: "Yes, I can write something completely different. Why? Because I can."

To think that 1Q84 is more than a thousand pages, Murakami at least could have answered some of the questions the reader would have in his mind. Instead, we are left wondering. Who are the Little People? Why do they make air chrysales? What's that alternate universe all about? What the hell is the problem with Fuka-Eri?

At heart 1Q84 is a love story involving the two protagonists: Tengo, the writer and mathematics teacher, and Aomame, the assassin who first realizes that they're living in another parallel universe. We do realize that Tengo and Aomame are destined to be together, as Murakami drops not-so-subtle hints that these two will become a couple. But must it really take a thousand pages?

If you're a Murakami fan, there are still lots of familiar elements in 1Q84 to make you feel at home. There's the weird sex, the weird goings-on, the weird fascination with earlobes, the weird inclusion of cats in the story. However, 1Q84 feels distinctly different from his other works. It feels a lot like it was done by a Hollywood writer drunk on sake.

Read this book if:
  1. You love Murakami.
  2. You like all things weird.
  3. You've been a ghostwriter at one point in your life.


Stepford Mum said...

I love this review, Peter! You hit it right on the head :)

Peter S. said...

Let's read the sequel, Stepford Mum!