Book Diary: 1Q84 (Haruki Murakami)

1Q84, Haruki Murakami

(finished reading on 01/04/12)

Last week, I finally finished Haruki Murakami’s, 1Q84  after starting it at the very beginning of January!  The length of and/or how fast one gets through a book doesn’t really bother me.  I don’t mind how long it takes, fast or slow.  However, I do – every now and then – love to relax into a book, as I did with this one.  It’s a nice feeling to know it’s there each evening waiting for you to come home, and even if it’s a busy week, and you don’t get to pay it much attention, that it’s still there waiting and it doesn’t mind being neglected just a bit.  Having said that, I’m also now looking forward to moving on – and down – my much increased reading pile.

One aspect of the novel I particularly enjoyed was the use of language.  It’s Nabokovian (my favourite) in the way that it is utterly descriptive, but it’s also the total opposite to Nabokov in that it’s pared right down.  Murakami’s characters are similarly pared down: they are neat and ordered.  What goes on with them internally is another matter, but externally they dress well, cleanly and neatly and when they eat, they prepare their meals with care and skill, the ingredients carefully balanced for taste and nutrition.  However, these same characters usually lead concurrently complicated inner lives.  I feel the way the characters are drawn by Murakami is a good analogy for how he uses language: on the surface it is very simple; precise and succinct, but taken as a whole novel, manages to describe the wholly messy and complicated business of being a human being.  He also manages to do this without me (hardly) even noticing.

To my delight, I found that Murakami wrote the perfect description of his writing within 1Q84 when Aomame, one of the two main characters, describes the style of Air Chrysalis, a book written by the other protagonist:

‘While the writing was deceptively simple, a closer read revealed that it was in fact calculated and arranged with great care.  No part of it was overwritten, but at the same time it had everything it needed.  Figurative expressions were kept to a minimum, but the descriptions were still vivid and richly coloured.  Above all, the style had a wonderfully musical quality.  Even without reading it aloud, the reader could recognise its deep sonority.’

I really enjoyed reading this tome.  I don’t think I’ve read many books that are as long and I appreciated that experience in itself, as when you’re really enjoying a book, it’s nice sometimes for it to be long enough not to feel anxious that it’ll soon be over and with Murakami in particular, he can (for me) be relied on to provide a story to get lost in.  So altogether, with its length, its grip and its lazy reader, 1Q84 is was the perfect combination to see me through a dreary January and February and even a much less dreary March.

My final thought after finishing 1Q84 was how, since writing it, Haruki Murakami has achieved the ultimate accolade in becoming most definitely, simply: Murakami.

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