Why Did You Abandon that Book?
Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!!!
A few years ago in May, I struggled to get through Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84. When I first saw it at the bookstore, I was attracted to how its futuristic cover design showcased a pair of soulful, seeking eyes peering into mine. Also, the novel’s unique title, my love of Orwell’s 1984 and the fact that I had never heard of Murakami added to the novel’s intrigue.
Actually, this blurb on the back of IQ84 sealed the deal:
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s –1Q84 is a tremendous feat of imagination from one of the most revered contemporary writers.
So What Happened?
As the number of chapters I read increased, the level of my enthusiasm waned. There were tediously detailed descriptions of someone preparing food or drinking tea. Interactions between characters seemed pointless and drawn out, and every character was as detached from life as I was becoming from this story.
Around chapter six, I took to the terrible practice of skim-reading this 1,157-page chunker. That was also a waste of time.
Not long after moving on to another novel, my mind returned to scenes in 1Q84. I realized that one of the main characters, Aomame’, had not just slid down a fire escape. She actually landed into another world, or realm or dimension. This was something magical and it renewed my interest in the book. I began to wonder, “ How did I miss this important detail the first time?” and “What if I gave up on the novel too soon?”
Who is to Blame?
Many critics of 1Q84 have said that Murakami’s writing is repetitive, drowning in metaphors and dragging in pace. Although I suspect I may end up agreeing with these opinions, I also know I didn’t give the novel a fair shake. I’m not above loving a “drawn out” story for any number of reasons: poetic writing, loveable characters, unusual and interesting situations. At the time I bought the novel, I was in the mood for a fast paced, futuristic love story like THX 1138, one of my…