Friday, August 10, 2012

1Q84 - Book Review!!!

During my recent bouts of migraine, I've accomplished a lot of reading.

(Side note: I often cannot sleep during a migraine, and a book is the only thing that takes my mind off of it without exacerbating the pain.)

I reread The Forsyte Saga for the millionth time. It's one of my favorite books, ranking right up there with The Count of Monte Cristo.

I finished The Forsyte Saga at around 9:00 pm, one evening, and then had nothing else to read. I didn't feel like rereading The Count of Monte Cristo. Or The Hunger Games. Or any of the other books on my shelves. (Or under the shelves. Or under the chairs.)

And then, I remembered that I had a copy of 1Q84 languishing in a living room chair.

I'd purchased 1Q84 from Amazon a couple of months back. I kept reading wonderful things about it in The Economist and Vogue. So I bought it. But for some reason, I couldn't force myself to read it.

Until, that is, I had nothing I wanted to reread and a migraine that meant I couldn't drive to a bookstore.

I picked it up. I opened it.

I was immediately hooked.

At this point, I would like to offer a heartfelt apology to Mr. Haruki Murakami for letting his book suffer all by itself, unread and unloved, in that chair for two months.

Without going too far into the details, the book details the relationship between Aomame - who is a fitness instructor with a morally ambiguous side job - a cult, and the love of her life - a man named Tengo who she hasn't seen since they were 10 years old.

It's difficult to review the book without giving everything away, but let's just say that everything changes for everyone in the book when Tengo is hired to ghost-rewrite a story called Air Chrysalis, written by a 17 year old girl who appears to have some emotional problems.

From the point when Tengo begins rewriting the story, and from when Aomame decides to get out of a taxi stuck in gridlock to walk her way down an emergency stair on the expressway (she can't be late for a morally ambiguous appointment), the characters cease to exist in 1984, and enter the divergent metaphysical pathway of 1Q84, or - as Tengo refers to it - The Town of Cats.

It's a fascinating story written and translated with beautiful descriptions and a sense of urgency. Although it takes place over the course of a year, there is a sense of compressed time, as if everything must be done - and read - as quickly as possible. I was desperate to know what would happen to Aomame and Tengo, and the book was written in a subconscious Neverending Story type of way: If I didn't keep reading, the world as the characters knew it would cease to exist. I began to truly care for the characters - despite a rocky start with the somewhat frigid Aomame - and wanted them to reach a conclusion, happy or not. I wanted them to have some sense of closure, and the only way to make that happen for them was to keep reading.

If that makes any sense whatsoever. Which is doubtful.

Pretty much, you should read it. Read it now.

It's a matter of urgency.

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