01 March 2012

1Q84 ~ Haruki Murakami


Tournament of Books : 2012

Finished at laaaaast
Tournament of Books, Amazon Best of 2011, highly acclaimed

This is one of those books that make you contemplate ...

Why is it so highly acclaimed?
Why is it so long?
What is the point?
Why did I finish it?

When you look into a kaleidoscope you actually only see one fragment that is "real" and all the rest of the intricate pattern is repetition ... that is how that book was for me. Yes, there is lots of detail (lots and lots and lots and lots) and it it repeated and repeated and repeated. The detail isn't necessarily important to the plot or characterisation and the repetition is necessarily to emphasis. There were so many, many conversations where the characters simply repeated what the other person just said.

One reviewer on Amazon used the analogy :
Imagine everything you love about your favorite cocktail; the way the ingredients intermingle, often with hints of flavors that, while unbearable on their own, blend magnificently with others to create a mixed concoction to stimulate even the most nether regions of the human tongue. Now dump your glass into a gallon jug. Fill the jug to the 3/4 mark with water. Then add clam juice, tabasco sauce, maple syrup, nutmeg, and vanilla extract til you get to the top. Voila! You've got 1Q84. Drink it down, consumers.

And while I thought of my fractured kaleidoscopic pattern as I read (skipped, skimmed) this book, I think the above analogy is pretty good. There are many good points about the book and the author knits in interesting musical and literary references but it is swamped with so much trivial ephemera. While a reviewer called it "complex and surreal", I am more with the one from The Onion that called it "stylistically clumsy with layers of tone-deaf dialogue". I think the repetition made it simplistic and scrambled.

BUT ... having now force fed myself with 1Q84, I will, when I have the chance, go back and read others by the author (reviews by fans suggest that this was not the one to start with!).