It took me the entire gestation period of humans to finish Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84. It supplanted Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov from the pole position in the longest-time-to-finish-a-book category. Both books exceeded a thousand pages but unlike Karamazov, 1Q84 is simple and straightforward. 1Q84 does not have philosophical and existential drama that is central to the theme of Dostoevsky’s work, what it has is redundancy that rendered it boring.
The first chapters of 1Q84 looked promising mainly due to its graphic descriptions and interesting characters. Aomame is a fitness instructor who masquerades as a murderer who prefers handmade ice pick as her killing tool. She sleeps with men she picks up at hotel lobbies and bars while she hopes to meet the boy she fell in love with when she was 10. That boy is Tengo, a math prodigy who becomes a math tutor in a cram school. Like Aomame, he satisfies his carnal desires by sleeping with, among others, a married woman, with Aomame still inhabiting his heart. Their love story unravels in an alternative world that has two moons, Little People, Air Chrysallis and maza and dohta.
Halfway through the 1157-page book, I started to skim through the book because of the repetitions of details and conversations. The characters became echoes of each other. Towards the end, I felt tired and just wished that the characters would die or disappear to eliminate the unnecessary reiterations. I can bear it if things were said twice or thrice in different parts of the book, but not more than five times, two of which on the same page. I do not have the memory span of a chimpanzee (20 seconds).
- The novel mentions several famous personalities and works like Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, Carl Jung and the house he built from scratch, Sonny and Cher, Steve McQueen’s The Getaway, and Leos Janacek’s Sinfonietta. It also includes Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past – a novel so long, it was seen as the perfect companion for someone in prison (or in hiding). This got me thinking, if I were to go to prison, what one book would I choose (excluding the Bible)?
- 1Q84 mentions breasts and genitalia a lot. Aomame gets naked at the drop of a hat to examine her small breasts and hair down south and Tengo’s mistress likes scrotum-cupping and penis-rubbing and there was a foursome, but the story is far from being erotic. It must have taken a great effort to make these sexually-charged scenes sound so clinical.
- The story is a fan of Occam’s Razor but not of Chekhov’s gun. I would have preferred the other way around.
- The world in 1984 and 1Q84 intersects twice. It made me think if parallel universe is still applicable in this situation. Maybe Murakami thought of it in non-Euclidian space or spherical geometry, where two non-parallel lines intersect exactly twice.
- 1Q84 is not a science-fiction novel, so the presence of two moons does not have any other consequence in the story aside from reminding the reader it is 1Q84 and not 1984. BUT the two moons made me think. What would happen if there were two moons? Would the tides be higher or lower than usual? Would earth rotate on its axis like it does now? Would the two moons collide with each other or with the earth? Would Aomame and Tengo survive if the collision occurs?
Three years ago today, Chelsea Football Club won its first and only UEFA Champions League trophy. Juan Mata was instrumental in the game-tying goal made by Didier Drogba. I remember listening to Pedro Pinto of CNN giving the blow-by-blow account of the match. Yes, Mr. Pinto did not have a camera crew with him, he was talking while photos of the match taken previously were shown on the screen.