1Q84, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and After Dark

1Q84, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and After Dark

by Haruki Murakami. This guy has written over a dozen novels (mostly fiction) and his writing has been translated from Japanese into forty different languages. Every time I finish a Murakami novel I am left grieving because that means the end of his characters’ worlds (at least for the reader). Good thing I have many more novels to go...here are brief reviews of three. I started with 1Q84, which is an intimidatingly bulky book whose first chapter is titled “Don’t Let Appearances Fool You.” It's just that you're about to do something out of…continue reading →

1Q84, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and After Dark

by Haruki Murakami. This guy has written over a dozen novels (mostly fiction) and his writing has been translated from Japanese into forty different languages. Every time I finish a Murakami novel I am left grieving because that means the end of his characters’ worlds (at least for the reader). Good thing I have many more novels to go…here are brief reviews of three.

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I started with 1Q84, which is an intimidatingly bulky book whose first chapter is titled “Don’t Let Appearances Fool You.”

It’s just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before. But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s always only one reality.

The stories switch from the ever-serious mini-skirt wearing professional killer Aomame to the gentle-giant, math teacher Tengo. Then there is the peculiar teenage girl, Fuka-Eri and her written story Air Chrysalis that talks about the Little People that Fuka-Eri insists are real. Tengo becomes entangled in Fuka-Eri’s world as he rewrites her manuscript while Aomame befriends a wild policewoman and prepares for her most dangerous mission yet. And all of that is in the first 200 pages of an 1157 page book.

1Q84 involves butterflies, ice pick murders, two moons, a religious cult, and two separate lives trying to find each other.

What I want is for the two of us to meet somewhere by chance one day, like, passing on the street, or getting on the same bus.

All the while you can imagine a furious and haunting symphony playing in the background.

Aomame raised her glass to the moon and asked, “Have you gone to bed with someone in your arms lately?”
The moon did not answer.
“Do you have any friends?” she asked.
The moon did not answer.
“Don’t you get tired of always playing it cool?”
The moon did not answer.

 

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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World starts with a chapter titled “Elevator, Silence, Overweight” and the first-person account of a man from “the System” who is hired to do a highly specialized job for an eccentric scientist. Each chapter switches from skull research (these bones literally speak) to the Town where the narrator is given the job as the reader of “old dreams.” The Dreamreader cannot see through scarred eyes and spends his nights in the library. A wall surrounds the Town and shadows are surrendered upon entering.

“This is a very quiet town,” she says, “if you came seeking quiet.”

Oh right, and this story might contain unicorns. The world might also end if mysteries are not solved.

 

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I read After Dark in a couple of hours after purchasing it for a dollar from the back room of a thrift store. Mari is a young woman in a Denny’s in Tokyo reading a book late at night. She meets Takahashi, a young man who plays trombone and knows Mari’s sister. He also can’t stop talking and is clearly still curious about Mari’s sister, Eri. Eri, we learn, is a beautiful model that is clearly disturbed and has been sleeping for the last two months. Neither Mari nor Takahashi are eager to be at home. Overnight Mari is approached by ex-wrestler love ho manager, Karou, as one of the prostitutes in her hotel has been beaten. Karou has learned through Takahashi that Mari speaks Chinese, and this prostitute is Chinese-speaking. This reads like a dark-humored foreign indie film. Ends are never tied.

Of what value is a civilization that can’t toast a piece of bread as ordered?

Thoughts?