Saturday, June 30, 2012

Biblio Babble: My First Murakami

The Book: 1 Q 84

The Writer: Haruki Murakami

The Dealio: Well, I would like to say 'Beats me!' But that would be a cop-out. I received this book-in audiobook format- from  loved ones.  And I can imagine that the thought was, 'I know she is crazy for things Japanese. This is a shoo-in.' Not so fast. This book clocked in at almost 1000 page book, and the audio was on almost 40 CDs- I found out 'round about CD #36 that the last 2 were MP3s. None the less, this was a story very expertly voiced by the three readers. The story kept me company for hundreds and hundreds of miles over 3 months as I drove to and from sites for work. Late night and early morning, this book was a steadfast companion, and I will always have a soft spot for both it and the loving couple who gave this to me for Christmas. However...this was my first Murakami, and is not a particularly easy companion. Sort of like having the mom who taught you to drive a car with you for every trip thereafter...and not a bit inclined to hold back. Murakami has constructed a complex tale involving many, but focused mostly on three main characters: Tengo, a math teacher and would-be writer of fiction, Aomame, a fitness trainer and sometime assassin and Ushikawa, a creepy but savvy PI. Along the way, we pick up a mythology of Little People, two moons-which only certain peeps can see, a charismatic, but ultimately despicable cult leader, a galvanising, best-selling  first book and multiple threats to the sanity and safety of the main characters. And its readers? Perhaps.

The Grading Session: 3.72 pengies out of 5. I should actually rate it a bit higher, because, although this story had a tendency to make me say (repeatedly) 'Oh, come ON, now!' I could not leave it alone. There was an extreme amount of repetition. Not just a Tarentino-esque device of seeing the same scene from other participants' viewpoints. Nope, repeated repetitions of the same sentences, using the same words, and coming from the same peeps, but without any additional insight or clarification. I do believe, (and those who read my movie chat will groan and say, 'Not again!'), this book could have been at least half its published length without losing a scrap of import and tension. I also could have done without the terribly written sex scenes and the fullsome and very repetitive descriptions of Aomame's breasts. I get it: they're small, she hates them. Move along, folks. There's nothing (new) for you here. You might imagine that clocking in at almost 1000 pages would mean every.single.possible. plot thread would be dealt with in the book. But, not so fast: instead of resolving the issue of Tengo's 'older girfriend's ' disappearance, we wind up hearing more about Aomame's breasts. There are about three more dropped plotlines, but are you the one who is going to write to Murakami and tell him to put pen to paper again on the matter of 1 Q 84? Not I, said the little red hen. Not even  for two moons.

Lessons Learned: At a certain point in a successful writer's career, he has reached such stature and status, that even his/her editor is loathe to trim even a solitary word. Murakami has reached just such a point. Unfortunately. Next this: do I regret the book or the time devoted to it? Nope. I just think I needed to either read the abridged version, if such a critter exists, or I need to try an earlier Murakami and watch what happens. Your mileage may vary.

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