Friday, October 28, 2011

1Q84 first impressions

200 pages in; I'm taking my time with this one. Some people are speculating on whether this will be his all-time best work. It is still early to tell: slow-moving plot, mainly because even the main characters are getting a lot of back-story attention. And, there is just so much here, going on, already, in terms of characters and plot complexity. So it's uncertain where and how everything will tie up. In this way we are seeing a shift from most of his earlier approaches, but it is indeed similar to Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and could therefore leave some readers quite upset by the end (though, this did not happen to me).

He's also elevating his themes -- religion, politics, the state -- thereby entering relatively unexplored territory given the ultra-personal approach of most of his other novels/short stories. He could therefore really be trying to do too much if he still wants to maintain the classical Murakami elements. Early evidence suggests he's trying to do both though (Fuka-Eri is a particularly striking example). But if he pulls it off, there is no doubt that this could be a true masterpiece.

Some magical realism but it's really a matured version of even his somewhat more recent examples (e.g., Kafka on the Shore). It makes me feel less guilty about reading it but all the more amazed at how he still pulls it off.

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