I have a disclaimer in my CBR7 Review #8 that most of my books are in storage. Husband bought me 1Q84 and although it is a brick, I couldn’t put it in storage since it was a gift. I figured Cannonball was great motivation to tackle this beast of a book. Then I see on Amazon you can buy it as three books. Not only is it quite beautiful, you should buy it this way to get the bang for 3 books. And as one book it is prohibitively heavy. I thought when Husband gave it to me it was a pair of small but heavy boots. Or a brick.
1Q84 is essentially a simple story though with some mystical, other-worldly elements in it, that always features in Murakami fiction. The gist of the book is that Aomame and Tengo, having held a burning candle for each other for 20 years, seem now fated to meet. But the path is long and dangerous and may not actually be possible. It involves a religious cult, a bestselling book phenomenon, some murders, some cover-ups, some ghosts, and some Little People. Aomame, mostly a kick ass personal trainer, murders people people who well deserve it. Tengo, by day a cram school teacher, is the ghost writer for the prize-winning, critical darling teen girl whose story accidentally exposes the deepest secrets of a religious cult. It also involves a world with two moons and a degree of unreliability of knowing who exactly lives in this world with two moons.
I know there are a lot of reviews online where you can read more of the mechanics of the book, including an explanation of the 1Q84 title or the Little People. At 925 pages, I won’t tackle the story too much more other than to say if you are a Murakami fan, this will certainly be a pleasing book to you. If you’re not a Murakami fan, but like mystical fiction, I certainly strongly recommend trying one of his books, but Norweigan Wood or another shorter paperback.
In my opinion, this book was incredible at descriptions. I feel like when I read Murakami, my world suddenly becomes a little more interesting because there is no better writer with turn of phrase and descriptions than Murakami. Again, as this is essentially a simple story, the length is due at least in part to the details Murakami uses to describe everything vividly. These saturate the book and validate any analogy you ever have in your mind. 1Q84 is an eloquent reflection on the mundane and elevates a simple story to epic status.
The book also had a few fun bits for we avid readers. After Aomame murders someone, she has to hole up in an apartment. By her colleague, she is sent a copy of “In Search of Lost Time” by Proust. This is the cover Nao uses for her diary in A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki which was another of my Cannonball reviews. It was delightful to see this connection made between the two books. A character, Ushikawa, is doing some surveillance and regularly does some stretching so his body “didn’t get numb. His muscles would start to atrophy and then he wouldn’t be able to react quickly if need be. Like Gregor Samsa…” Who doesn’t like a good Kafka reference? There is also a Chekhov reference, but the novel defers on his notion that a gun once introduced to the story needs to be fired. And very close to the end of the book, where chapters have primarily alternated between Aomame and Tengo, there is a self-aware, tongue-in-cheek comment that at the close of the 20th century “even the way novels are composed has changed drastically.” It’s not really events in the book that make this epic, it just is what the book is; an interesting take on what epic can mean.