I recently started reading 1Q84, and I intend to get through it as efficiently as possible. It took me a couple of months to get through Moby-Duck (my review here), and it was probably silly of me to take on another large title so soon after, but this book has been on my reading list since, well, last year. A friend gave it to me for Christmas.
I wasn't sure what to expect. I've never read a book that has been translated from Japanese to English, so this is my introduction to Haruki Murakami's style. It's also my introduction to what I assume is a more "Japanese style" of writing opposed to the kind of stories I'm used to. The reason I say this is because by chapter 5, you still have no clue what is going on.
Every chapter feels like an eternity, but I don't mean it in a bad way. Murakami has a way of narrating the story that feels like he has all the time in the world to set it up and give us backgrounds for the characters, and slowly build up to what will eventually be the meat of the story. Then again, maybe he intends the build up to be meatier than the actual "plot." Either way, even with the "slow pacing," I haven't been bored in the least. I love the characters.
Instead, I've been relaxed. When I initially sat down to read the book, I tried to rush because I wanted to move on and read what comes next, but the book forced me to slow down. I don't even know how that works, but it's so eloquently written, so perfectly translated and the word choices feel so precise that I feel like it'd be a disservice to the book to try and read it quickly. Instead, I find myself taking my time.
The way the book is put together, each chapter alternates between two different main characters, Aomame and Tengo. Throughout most of the first "book," that is the section which covers January through June of the storyline (the entire thing spans a year), I wonder what the connection is between the two. They don't intersect, and up until almost the end of that first section there was nothing similar about their story lines. They were just going about their lives as things happened to them. I was able to take day-long breaks from reading the book because "nothing was happening anyway."
The author is a clever one, though. I stayed up much too late last night finishing up the last four chapters because I was given a detail that made every difference. The one detail that I can see will connect their stories, though probably much later in the book. Now, I'm itching to read it. While I'm at work, I think about the location of my car relative to my desk and picture the book sitting on the passenger seat with my Sorting Hat metal book mark at the spot where I left off, the first page of the second section (July through September).
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[book cover image via - read also for more information about the book]