Book Review: 1Q84 — Murakami’s Dreamy Return



From MALCOLM JONES
The Daily Beast

[...] Not all of his books are equally good, but they all flow unmistakably from the same pen. As a result, once you get hooked on him, you’ll willingly read whatever he produces. (I’ve dreamed of having something like a subscription to his work—he could just send them along when they’re ready and bill my account.) His vision is unique enough, and pure enough to propel you through even those books of his which do not quite work (South of the Border, West of the SunSputnik Sweetheart) and he is so good at several things that you forgive his few if not insignificant shortcomings. All of these qualities are showcased in his latest novel,  1Q84  (at 944 pages, how could it not include them all?). This the first really successful epic-sized novel Murakami has delivered since his dazzling The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle in 1997, and it is worth the wait.

Murakami paces a story as well as any writer alive. He knows how to tell a love story without getting cute. He understands how to blend realism and fantasy (magical realism if you want to get all literary about it) in just the right proportions. And he has a knack for writing about everyday matters—fixing dinner, going for a walk—in such a way that the events at hand, no matter how mundane, are never boring. Indeed, there is something comforting, even reassuring, about watching a Murakami character dice vegetables for dinner.

Most impressive, he knows how to inject the logic and atmosphere of dreams into his fiction without becoming coy or vague. He’s Kafka-esque to the extent that he’s not interested in why or how a man may have turned into an insect overnight, but in how the man deals with his new situation. And like Beckett, he furnishes his dreamscapes with a mere handful of carefully chosen props—a tree, a streetlight, a playground sliding board—specifics that ground a scene but leave room for the reader to fill in details. This is perhaps the key point: he makes you, the reader, his collaborator. What he leaves out is as important as what he includes, because it encourages you to fill in the blanks in the canvas.  Once you’re invested, once you buy into the vision of dinner being prepared and streetlights in playgrounds at dusk, the strangeness that he subsequently introduces—two moons hanging in the sky, for example—almost doesn’t seem strange at all…

Complete review here
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