Archive for the ‘Non-List’ Category

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.

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