All Animals Are Created 3Qu4l

I have two ways of discovering that Haruki Murakami has published a new novel in English translation:

  • I see several copies on the shelf at a bookstore  –either in the ‘new fiction’ section or nearly at the end of the M’s in the fiction/literature section of the store.
  • I stumble across a book review in a newspaper or online –and then avoid reading the review so that my approach to the new work isn’t tainted by the reviewer’s opinion.

Option ‘B’ is in effect this time around.  The Los Angeles Times splashed a large link to David Ulin’s review on its home page, and then left little to chance by illustrating the piece with a Murakami portrait photo.  I have to confess that I read just enough of the review to learn that the novel is titled “1Q84” and that it’s 962 pages long.  The title appears to indicate that Murakami has finally come to terms with the existence of l33t (although it’s difficult to imagine how l33t would work in Japanese kana/kanji).

One of the things that have drawn me back to Murakami’s work time and again is the way that themes in his novels often reflect developments occurring in my own life at the time I read them. But sometimes that very aspect of Murakami’s writing is what becomes immensely frustrating about him: he (through his protagonists) often seems to be teetering on the brink of an insight that just barely eludes him  –or escapes expression.  More than once, that missing insight has been one that I believe (or delude myself in thinking) I have myself attained.  On the one hand, this could be the mark of a truly gifted writer: the most masterful persuasion is that in which the subject convinces himself he’s known it all along.  But on the other hand, Murakami is a genuinely humble guy, so he’d undoubtedly insist that neither he nor his protagonists ever have any insights at all –they just stumble through life’s mysterious reality and keep on keepin’ on no matter what happens.

Either way, it’s particularly encouraging that …

“1Q84” deploys its strategies in the service of what becomes the most traditional sort of story: the one in which love wins out over all.



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