Wednesday 11 April 2012
Devouring Books: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Guess what? I'm kind of in love with Murakami. Here's something that's weird, though. It's been a few days since I've read 1Q84, and I've finally allowed myself to read some reviews and things, and I've found myself nodding at quite a few criticisms of it, and even coming up with a few of my own. This isn't necessarily weird in itself (believe it or not, I have criticised books before in my life), but while I was reading 1Q84, to me it was flawless. I was so unbelievably enthralled by it, and every second I wasn't reading it, I wished I was. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but more or less? I just wanted to figure out what on earth was going on, and for the two main characters to get their shit together and find each other, even though I knew that event would most likely mean the end of the book.
I guess what I'm getting at here is the difference between actually being engaged with a book to the extent that it becomes the whole world for a little while, and then actually thinking about that book critically and taking the opinions and ideas of others into account. This isn't something that normally happens to me- I'm usually criticising as I go along, and I don't just mean being cruel about it, but just generally picking out certain features and thinking about whether I like them or not and all shit like that. With 1Q84 though? I was so caught up with the story, that I could barely remember my own name, let alone think about how it represented women, or just how cringeworthy some of the sex stuff was (now that I've thought about it? There should have maybe been a bit of cringing). About the only thoughts that came from my brain were 'mmmm, that sounds tasty' after Murakami described practically every meal every character made (and I literally want to eat them ALL) and any kind of criticism just wasn't there- it was like I forgot everything I knew, and all there was was me and 1Q84.
So, here's what I'm saying about this book (or rather, these books- for no discernible reason, the British publishers released books one and two together, and then released book three a week later- under the pretext that this is what happened in Japan, except that there was a year between those releases, and it doesn't really seem worth it for the sake of a week, other than to make people buy two separate books...). It's not perfect, and I can't pretend that it is, having now thought about it and identified quite a few flaws and things that I think could have been better in it. But. As a reading experience, it's probably one of the best I've ever had, and the thought of just how good reading it was far outweighs the slightly negative experience of realising it maybe wasn't completely perfect. Because the reading, for me? Completely perfect.
Did you notice how I literally told you nothing about the story? That was pretty much intentional- I knew basically nothing about the story when I started it, and that helped with its awesomeness since I literally had no idea what was going to happen next, and sometimes what was going on at all. In a good way! This was essentially a completely self-centred review (is there any other kind?!) because I have no idea if 1Q84 will blow your mind the way mine was. But I hope it does, or if not that you get to have this kind of experience some time, with some book. Because it was pretty bloody great.