1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

So, I’m going to kick things off with a post that’s NOT about a book from The List. I really want to get started on this project, but I have to finish the book(s) I’m currently reading first. I just feel like blogging, so, here we go.

I’m about a third of the way through 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.

The book is captivating. I don’t want to do anything but stay home and read it. I’ve only read one other Murakami – Kafka on the Shore – but I get the feeling that most of is stuff is like that. In terms of prose he is just SO GOOD

1Q84 is hard to explain. It’s about two people – vigilante assassin/personal trainer Aomame and ghostwriter/cram school math teacher Tengo. The story begins when Aomame exits a taxi during a traffic jam and the driver warns her that “things are not what they seem.” Soon she discovers that she has entered a bizarre world with two moons and past events she does not remember. Meanwhile, Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project and sets into motion events he could not have foreseen. There’s also a religious cult and hints of a dystopia.

I’m assuming the two plots will converge at some point. Right now the only connection is that Tengo and Aomame went to school together. In fifth grade he stopped kids from making fun of her, and she has been in love with him since. Likewise, he is in love with her. Unfortunately, they have not seen each other since they were ten.

This book does something to you. Ever since I started reading it, I’ve been living with this weird awareness that things are not what they seem. A big part of the book, earlier on, was Aomame realizing that the world is slightly different than she remembers, but no one else notices. The police uniforms are different and officers carry semiautomatic guns. This is the result of a deadly shootout between police and political radicals three years ago. She does not remember hearing about this shootout. As she digs deeper, she realizes that other little things have shifted and, at night, she notices that there are two moons.

I’ve noticed some odd things since I started reading this book. I haven’t been sure what is real and what’s not. When I see things that strike me as odd, I wonder if may they aren’t actually so odd and that maybe I’ve entered a world like 1Q84. Last weekend I was driving to a wedding. I was stuck in a traffic jam in the suburbs of Chicago and I saw a building that housed university offices. It was odd because this university is not far away from where I went to school in northern Iowa.

Weird. They must recruit here, I thought. But it seemed weird. This school doesn’t seem the type to have out of state offices – it’s relatively small and, frankly, not that great. I started to wonder if maybe, somehow, something was a little bit off. Maybe that university was actually in Chicago. Maybe it always had been and I was delusional or mistaken.

Ever since I started reading this book, I’ve wondered about the things in the world that I find odd. Are they actually odd, or am I just in some weird, unfamiliar world that I don’t remember entering?

I’m enjoying this book immensely. I warn you, though, things WILL seem different to you once you start reading it. But then, maybe this is a good thing. After all, T.S. Eliot said it best: Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

But, as the taxi driver tells Aomame, There is always only one reality.

That doesn’t mean that it’s the reality we want, or even the reality we remember.


6 responses to this post.

  1. I recently finished this book, and I absolutely love it. I compared it to 1984, and I will compare it to other books that Murakami references in the future. Here’s my blog post:
    I completely agree with you, by the way. Things are starting to look bizarre.


    • I really like your thoughts on this. I can’t help but compare it to 1984, given the title and all the references. After I read your blog, I started making a list of the books Murakami references in 1Q84. I’ll have to read them too!
      And things definitely are bizarre. My Romanticism professor once asked our class if we thought that maybe the world was more strange and different than we realized. I’m beginning to think he was right. Keep an eye out, things are not as they seem!


      • Thanks for reading my blog post, I really liked yours as well, haha, I just realized that I didn’t mention that in my first comment!

  2. Hi,

    “This book does something to you”

    yeah, I agree. I haven’t read this 1Q84 yet, but i recently was washed away by four of Murakami’s other books. Haunted by them, I intended to read every book of his one after the other, but half way through the fifth book I had to stop and pull myself out of his world.

    Throughout his stories he illustrates consciousness, attachment, reality, imagination, love, loneliness, desire and memory so profoundly, that my experience of reading is not merely learning how these elements affect his characters, but how they affect me simultaneously. This weaves me as the the reader into the narrative.

    I think this is what makes him such an incredible writer, he has the power to make the reader one of his characters, which sounds ridiculous, but perfectly fitting to his very original style. Maybe only possible with Murakami, and readers who truly embrace metaphor and (clearly) with vivid imaginations!

    so yeah – I’m sure this book does something to you!


    • I promise you, I does do something to you!

      I totally agree with you about Murakami’s books being haunting. It’s so easy to get drawn into his world. His world is great, but it definitely shifts around you. It sort of makes you want something concrete. His stories are beautiful, though, and I find that I don’t mind getting lost in his world.

      I hope you read 1Q84 soon. If you like his stuff, you won’t be disappointed.


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