Being a lover of Japanese literature, and books in general, I've always wanted to give Haruki Murakami's books a try. I've heard nothing but praise for his works so I thought I should give all his works a read. This is a bit of a personal project I've bestowed upon myself: To read at least one Murakami book a month. And, I thought, what better way to start than from the two first novels he's ever written! Well, I have to say that we are not off to a good start.
Hear the Wind Sing is his very first novel and it shows. Nothing much happens in this book. It's about an unnamed narrator and his best friend, the Rat, and what they do during a summer the narrator has off from college. But really, all they do is spend it drinking at a bar, talking about women, and that's pretty much it. The narrator has a relationship with a woman who only has nine fingers and their dynamic was... bizarre. I didn't see how that woman found the narrator interesting or how she developed feelings for him. I say this because at the beginning of the book, she detested him. Then, almost over night, she starts to fancy him... what? Why? What did he do in order for her to toss her disdain for him out the window? It made no sense to me. On top of the unbelievable relationship, I was just bored reading it. Nothing really happens in the book. Just a bunch of guys drinking in a bar. I was waiting for something else to happen. Something more interesting. I thought it would happen with the relationship aspect of the book. But no. Nothing. The writing in this first book was also dull. There was no life to it. Basically, Murakami's first novel just wasn't for me.
The second novel, Pinball, 1973, was a bit better but not by much. This book takes place several years after the first. The unnamed narrator works for a translation business whilst his friend, the Rat, goes through his own problems with trying to find himself and understand what he wants to do with his life. I'll admit, I liked that aspect of the book quite a bit. At some point in our lives, we all start questioning what we want to do. Who we are. What shall become of us if we don't do something worthwhile. And being able to read and see that side of the Rat was pretty interesting. Also, the writing was a lot more lyrical. There were still plenty of dull patches here and there, but I can tell that Murakami was finding his style a lot more here. So his writing improved a bit! And the translator, Ted Goossen, did a fantastic job in portraying Murakami's meaning well! But that's where my praises end, sadly. The narrator was still so bland that I was still bored when reading about him and his obsession with pinball. Also, there were these twins that intrigued me. I wanted to learn more about them. Like where they came from and what was their purpose for moving in with the main character. But I got none of that. Their sole purpose was to make coffee and have sex with the narrator. That's it. In fact, that's all the women of this book did! The secretary at the translation office only cooked food and cleaned. That's it. The twins made food and had sex. That's it. I knew going in that Murakami tends to be a bit sexist in his novels, but it's so apparent in these two books! So even though I enjoyed this book more... it still wasn't enough to make me fall in love with Murakami as a writer.
Now, these are just his first two novels. You can tell they are early works and I know it's his later works that are highly praised so I'm not judging him too harshly. These two weren't for me but I shall continue reading his works to see if he's an author that I will enjoy. I still have hope so in February, I will be reading A Wild Sheep Chase and see how I get on with that one. Hopefully I enjoy it a lot more than his first two novels.
Uh, odakle da počnem?
Otišla sam u antikvarnu knjižaru sa ciljem da sebi uzmem Pekića ili Murakamija. Kako nisu imali ,,Kako upokojiti vampira'', zatražila sam im ovu jer mi je na listi već dve ili tri godine.
Pre ,,Bezbojnog'', čitala sam ,,Norvešku šumu'' i ,,Južno od granice, zapadno od sunca'' i obema sam bila oduševljena, tako da sam i od ove knjige imala velika očekivanja. Uzimajući u obzir da je Šuma pisana 1987. a Bezbojni 2013., pala mi je na pamet mogućnost da je Murakami utanjio i da me možda neće kupiti a zapravo me je ščepao i držaće me dok ne pročitam sve što je napisao.
Pre no što iko počne da čita bilo koju od navedenih knjiga, trebalo bi da zna nešto o Murakamiju i stoga ću ga predstaviti onako kako ga ja vidim pre no što se vratim svojoj rođendanskoj korpi. Kroz sve tri knjige provlači se mrak prisutan u svačijem životu i o kojem retko ko od nas razmišlja. Non stop se javlja motiv nostalgije, priče se vrte oko davno izgubljenih prijatelja i ljubavi, natera vas da se zapitate šta radi prva osoba sa kojom ste se prvi put poljubili i da li je dobro; zatim vas obuzme tuga jer je niste videli godinama i počinjete da preispitujete i uviđate značaj svakog sitnog i naizgled beznačajnog poznanstva u svom životu. Stižete do kraja romana i shvatite da ste glavni lik sve vreme bili vi. Zatvorite treću njegovu knjigu i shvatite da ste posle svake nešto novo o sebi naučili. On se bavi majušnim pojedinostima i svoje likove detaljno izgrađuje. U svakom od njih stoji utkano nešto što ga čini drugačijim od svih likova iz kompletnog Murakamijevog stvaralavštva tako da se nikad nećete sresti sa istom osobom a u dosta njih ćete se naći.
Što se tiče Bezbojnog Cukurua, naučio me je da ne prestajem da preispitujem sebe iako to često dovodi do same ivice. Naučio me je i da nastavim da preispitujem druge u cilju nalaženja potrebnih odgovora, mira i kako bih se od te ivice udaljila. Za kraj, učvrstio je moje mišljenje da je u redu lutati i ne obazirati se na one koji stoje dok god ne naiđeš na nekoga sa kim ćeš sam poželeti da staneš i posmatraš vozove kako dolaze i odlaze.
Ps. Ovo su boje koje mi prolaze kroz glavu dok čitam Murakamijeva dela, ne umem da ih objasnim ali to je to, ovo je on.
Well, shit, it's over. Took me three months to read this one, and after that last page, I want to start all over again. I got to know Aomame and Tengo in every way possible, and I will miss them like old friends.
1Q84 is the third longest book I've read, as far as page count is concerned. It is also one of the only books over a thousand pages that I've read which was not written by Stephen King. I plan on fixing that over the next year by reading Gone with the Wind and Alan Moore's newest, Jerusalem, and any other 1,000-page motherfuckers I can find. Not too interested in fantasy novels, but I might throw The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss, in there too. We'll see how the mood strikes me.
What should you know about 1Q84? Well, it's a slow burn. It's definitely not a page-turner. It's literary fiction, so don't expect action and fight scenes and too much in the way of straight-line plot progression. It's magical realism, so expect to find some weird shit going down that people are overall okay with. Two moons in the sky? Why the fuck not. Exploding dogs? Okay then. Whatever you say.
Will you like it? See, that's the question I cannot answer with any certainty. If most of you in my friends list asked me if you should read this book, I'd likely say no. It's long and can be boring if you do not become invested in the characters like I did. I say that because you will learn every little detail about Aomame and Tengo, and you might not always be interested in their pasts.
I, however, loved every minute of this book. After two duds from Murakami (The Elephant Vanishes and Wind/Pinball... I guess that's technically three duds...), 1Q84 was a welcome return to the style I fell in love with after reading After Dark and Norwegian Wood. However, you should definitely read a shorter Murakami book before reading this one. I can't imagine anyone starting here. It would be like skipping the jungle gyms on the school playground and rushing straight for Mt. Everest.
This epic novel is broken up into three books. I believe that the original Japanese text was released in three completely different volumes. I never saw a clear ending point after book one, two, and three, so had I read these separately, I don't think I would have liked them as much. I did find it fascinating that I could tell the difference between the first two books and the final book. Something felt... off, is the best way I can explain it. Then I read the copyright page at the back and I find that the first two books were translated by Jay Rubin, whereas the third book was translated by Philip Gabriel. To me, there is an obvious difference between these two translators, but, if asked, I could not put a finger on what made the experience different. Odd.
Murakami nails the opening and closing of the novel. At the beginning, you can feel the shift from 1984 into what Aomame comes to call 1Q84. The last time I felt so certain that I was in a different place was while watchingDisney's Alice and Wonderland as a child. The cool part is that there isn't much difference between 1984 and 1Q84, only this feeling that 1984 is the real world, and in 1Q84, anything goes.
In summation: This review will likely grow as I digest more of this stunning novel, but for now, this is what you're getting. Air chrysalises and Little People and Sakigake and Buzzcut and Ponytail and Ushikawa and Aomame and Tengo are all part of my life now. I will never forget any part of 1Q84and I will definitely reread it on occasion. One of the best novels I've had the pleasure to experience.
Final Judgment: Magic.