Tuesday, 27 September 2011

1Q84 Book Two

So I've given it a little time to digest Book One and nearly spoiled Book Two by over reading about it on another blog's post about it, but thinking it over I've still got Book Three to read yet and with rumours that Murakami well may write a Book Four, or did I read that possibly there might be a Book Zero, (or maybe this was a joke?), the  conclusion of 1Q84 still seems to be a distant thing. Considering the Knopf edition will contain all three books in one volume, a tome that will be difficult to read on a bus or train, maybe books of this size are an ebook publisher's dream come true?. 1Q84 almost appears as a saga in it's length,  although reaching the last hundred pages or so you'll still find yourself wishing that it wasn't coming to an end, you get the impression that if you were to spread out the story and characters of 1Q84 on the floor, the books Murakami has written so far could be seen as him hovering over it with a magnifying glass in hand, revealing these selected scenes and details of an even much larger and more complex story, as with much of Murakami's writing the book resonates on differing levels, and at times maybe within itself. Book Two seemed to pass alot quicker than Book 1, there's obviously alot less devoted to character descriptions and history as certain things that were alluded to in the first book come into fruition, Book Two continues with alternating chapters on the progress of Aomame and Tengo, posting on Book Two becomes difficult if not wanting to reveal too many aspects of the plot. Two new characters appear in Book Two though, Ushikawa, a man who visits Tengo out of the blue, a representative for an agency that aids young talent which offers Tengo a generous amount of money, Tengo turns down the offer sensing that theres something wrong about Ushikawa and the agency he works for, as the novel progresses and repeated visits to Tengo, Ushikawa reveals a thorough knowledge of Tengo's private life, also implying he knows about Tengo's links with Fuka- Eri and also details about  Tengo's mother, the money offered is to be in part protection money. Tengo becomes resolved to the fact the man he thought was his father is actually not his father, (rather incredulously I think he remains unnamed), the man he collected NHK subscriptions  with now resides in a sanatorium, Tengo visits him. The other big character is the Leader of Sakigake, whose meeting with Aomame is when the novel begins to turn again in it's more fundamental direction, this is quite a definitive moment in Book 2 and alot of things are clarified.

1Q84 reads much like a thriller, combining and picking up on any number of differing genres; contemporary novel, modernist fable, futuristic detective, Murakami's ability to write all of these into one narrative is simply an awe inspiring thing, Murakami's prose is pitch perfect, his writing balances the flow of the narrative with that of the reader's expectation. One of the central themes which is apparent in some of Murakami's novels is a sense of dualism in both some of his characters and also the worlds they find themselves inhabiting, this can be seen again in 1Q84, but giving it a full definition without a reading of Book Three is a difficult thing. Murakami has turned his attention to the dark world of a secret religious sect, but the demarcations between right and wrong  become blurred and Murakami can be seen as exploring the relationship between good and evil, recently I read about his admiration for Dostoyevsky whose writing is famed for including many layers of writing which included incidental passages, in Book Two Murakami includes a brief life history of Tamura, the Dowager's gay bodyguard, although it flows neatly into the narrative, so far it has no bearing to the main story, although who's to say what constitutes a central story, isn't it the whole text?, perhaps it will resurface again in Book Three. Quite early on in Book Two the connection between Aomame and Tengo becomes more explicitly explained, and another enlightening scene is of Aomame actually reading the book 'Air Chrysalis', we get to learn the details of this mystifying book. Another aspect which occurred to me whilst reading the two narratives, is how they correlate to each other in regards to the timing of events, it's not until the ending of Book Two that you get the impression that the two narratives are juxtaposed together at the same time, but I think this is used to add tension to the flow, Book Two ends on a massive cliff hanger with Aomame returning to the scene of the novel's opening, but I think I'm going to end here before I over do it. Needless to say I'm really looking forward to reading other blog posts and articles on this book, undoubtedly 1Q84 is set to be one of the biggest novels of the year, not only in physical form but also in presence.

1Q84 at Knopf
1Q84 at Harvill Secker
1Q84 at Shinchosha  (check out the Q world illustrations, this one catches the eeriness of the Little People really well.)

It's Only A Paper Moon


parrish lantern said...

Hi, if it wasn't for the fact that I have already ordered this book, you'd have convinced me to give it a look & would probably be part of the clamour this book will generate.

me. said...

It's been slightly surreal to read a proof of this really, still I'm looking forward to Book Three where Philip Gabriel takes up the translation, perhaps 1Q84 will be the novel of the year.