Done reading. Below is a copy of my review at Goodreads:
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Murakami is addictive. I’ve read three novels by him in a little over a month: Kafka on the Shore, Wild Sheep Chase and 1Q84. Next in line is Norwegian Wood.
I like the way Murakami tells a story, mixing action and reflection. I know many people find that it slows down the pace of the narrative, but I like it.
I also like how he uses an omniscient narrator, something which is becoming increasingly rare, I think, and how even though each chapter corresponds to one character, the narrator is not limited to the character’s POV.
One example: in a chapter about the security people working for one of the cults, Buzzcut and Ponytail (two of their agents) jump into their car and hurry to try to catch one of the the main characters (let’s call him X), who is many miles away. At this point, the narrator says,
“By this time, however, X had been reunited with Y (…) in the park. Buzzcut and Ponytail had no idea where X was headed.”
Now, it’s easy to imagine a beginning writer being scolded by his instructor for mixing POVs this way, but Murakami can get away with it, because he’s Murakami. And it also goes to show that rules exist to be broken, preferably with flair.
1Q84 is a very long book, but worth every page. One curious thing about it: at about 50% of the story, we reach a climax that makes us wonder how Murakami will be able to pull off the remaining 50% of the book. A master stroke. I was perplexed by it, but also glad, because I still had more than half the book to read.
Life, old age, death, alternate universes, passages between them, fathers and sons, a man and a woman in love who haven’t seen each other in decades, characters who are writers, editors or professors: these are typical Murakami staples, and he gets better and better at portraying them, at making us care about their stories.
And sex, of the normal and of the magical kind. Murakami is good at writing about both.
A coincidence: last week, I watched 5 Centimeters per Second, a very Murakami-ish Japanese anime. There, the main storyline is also about a man and a woman in love who haven’t seen each other in decades, since childhood. Is this a Japanese thing? However good Murakami may be at breaking with Japanese tradition, he is still Japanese. Or maybe this is always a good theme, whichever country you come from.