Thursday, March 8, 2012

1Q84 Book Two by Haruki Murakami

First, I want to remind people that may not know, that Defying Gravity by author Cherie Reich is FREE all day today if you have an e-reader. Please click here to find out how to get yourself a copy.
This is not a book review although there are some things I will be talking about that could be considered spoilers.

I just recently finished book two of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.
I talked about book one in this post here.

In this particular novel a dowager (wealthy woman) hired Aomame to kill the head of a religious cult. His name was Leader. The dowager pointed out to Aomame that this man is guilty of raping pre-pubescent girls. As an empowered woman, Aomame felt that she could kill this man and avoid the justice system altogether which might be pre-disposed (because of the role of men in society) to treat this man kinder than he deserved. The only thing is, when she went to do the deed, she discovered that the Leader was IN FACT the victim in all of this sexual abuse from a cult that followed him. The man was in tremendous pain, was being raped while he was in a catatonic state as a devotion to the gods they believed in (called the Little People) and he wanted to die.

So she performs the most troubling assassination of her life.

As usual, the book is chock full of memorable quotes that make me think Murakami is a profound philosopher and not just a writer.

Additionally, Murakami includes a short story in his novel called the Town of Cats. This in itself is an accomplishment. I've seen other writers like Patrick Dilloway, who incorporate short stories into the greater length of their novel to illustrate a theme.

My post on Patrick Dilloway's book Where You Belong, is located Here.
The genius Haruki Murakami

I do put it on the same level as Murakami's writing. Only Murakami does not write literary fiction. But Murakami was up for a Nobel Prize and did sell a million of his books in Japan.

 If you would like to read Town of Cats, I will embed the link here to the New Yorker excerpt. To give you some background on it, one of the main characters goes to visit his father in a nursing home. He reads the "Town of Cats". This story is about a man who comes to a city that is deserted. But by night, it is occupied by intelligent speaking cats. Think "dogs playing poker" and you've got the image. But they smell the human amongst them and go searching for him. The man hides from the cats and evades them until daylight when the cats all leave. Later, he finds that he cannot escape because the train no longer stops there to pick any passengers up. So he is stuck in the town of cats.

This story is an allegory of 1Q84 which is a reflection of the real world 1984. However, there are subtle differences. The sky has two moons. The Little People are gods. And Aomame will never meet her true love  as long as she remains in 1Q84. But the way out of 1Q84 back to 1984 is no longer an option. That way is closed.
Murakami says through one of his characters, "Once you pass a certain age, life becomes nothing more than a process of continual loss. Things that are important to your life begin to slip out of your grasp, one after another, like a comb losing teeth. Your physical strength, your hopes, your dreams, your ideals, your convictions, all meaning, or, then again, the people you love: one by one, they fade away."
Maybe that's the purpose of life. To learn to cope and accept loss and to be thankful for the things that we do not lose. Maybe it is (like Aomame) to accept the fact that we cannot always get what we want and that the way home may be barred. Maybe Murakami is saying that it is just as important to find meaning in a world where we are alone among cats. What do you think?


  1. Murakami is rather popular in my country too!

  2. Wow, I think my IQ will go up just reading that book. Thanks for the review, I'm going to put these two books on my TBR pile.

  3. These sound like really interesting books. I haven't read either yet, but I would like to. I love books with many layers and a lot of depth. Is it depressing?

  4. I wasn't going to read IQ84 but your discussions of it have made me consider adding it to my list of stuff to read. I liked the other Murakami book I read, although it was also bewildering.

    I did read "Town of Cats" in The New Yorker, and liked it. It was a little creepy, but in a good way.

    HOWEVER: that last part, about life being a continued series of LOSSES? That might be the most depressing way of looking at life I've ever seen. And I say that from the perspective of someone whose body appears to be literally disintegrating at an ever-increasing pace.

    Every day you live, you in fact gather NEW things -- maybe you lose some hair, but you gather the experience of going sledding with Mr F. Or you are too old to jog anymore but your wife tells you a story about grocery shopping that makes you laugh so hard your sides hurt. It's not LOSING things, it's TRADING things. When you're young you have the healthiest body you'll ever have and you're an idiot and don't know how to use it or enjoy the world right. When you're old, your knees will crack as you walk up the stairs but you'll understand why it's so great to get up early and watch the sun rise for a while.

    Yesterday, when I was off talking to cure my laryngitis, I wondered what I would do if I ever actually completely lost the ability to talk. "A lawyer who can't talk!" my partner joked. And I decided if I did, I'd learn sign language and would hire someone to interpret for me in court so that someday I could argue a case to a jury entirely in sign language.

    That's how you have to look at things: I would trade my ability to speak with my mouth for my ability to speak with my hands.

    I hope you're not as depressed as your recent posts seem to make it. Did you go buy that ice cream cone? The woman who recently won the biggest Powerball jackpot ever got her ticket when she stopped off to buy rainbow sherbet,

    which just proves what I say: you can't go wrong buying yourself an ice cream cone.

  5. I don't entirely agree with that character's thoughts. He's too negative about life. Obviously that characer is depressed. Sure the older we get the more people we know that have died, and we're not going to be as strong or able to accomplish as much..but there are always new things in life too. Like kids and grandkids. So I don't agree that life turns into a continual loss.

  6. Woo hoo, now I have a blurb for my book: As good as Murakami...

    The story-in-story thing was something I learned from reading John Irving's "The World According to Garp" and "A Widow for One Year."

    I don't think what Murakami is saying and what Briane are saying are incompatible. As you get older you do lose things but you may learn to appreciate the little things, the smaller things.

    I think it was in "American Splendor" I was watching on DVD the other night where Harvey Pekar said that in life you're guaranteed to lose the war (we all die, right?) so the important thing is to win a few skirmishes along the way.

  7. BTW, I wonder why this post isn't coming up in my Blogger feed? If Briane hadn't mentioned it I would have missed it completely!

  8. You know... I haven;t read any Murakami, but over a year ago, my friend Mari reviewed a few of his books and I've been intrigued. Maybe it is time to look for him. I really could use some cultural broadening of the authors I read.

  9. Thank you for mentioning that my book is free today!

    And I think Murakami's work sounds fascinating. One day I'll try to read it.

  10. I'm interested in these books, but I think I would need to be in a different sort of mood to enjoy them. It's not that I don't like deep, philosophical work, but that I need an escape that gives me hope for better things.

  11. I like the sound of these two books... am going to check them both out... thanks for sharing. Very philosophical

  12. I appreciate philosophy in writing, so long as I finish the book feeling upbeat.

    Thanks for the info about Cherie's book!

  13. thx mike, was wondering whether or not to peruse muramaki... you cinched it! :)

  14. Have you read Norwegian Wood? I got this for Xmas and haven't picked it up yet..but your post makes me even more excited to discover this author.