I started “1Q84” halfway through a recent vacation, knowing that the book is long — but to me, the novel felt just as heavy as any other book when I opened it on my Kindle. : ) Last week, at a reading at Bluestockings, I spotted the spine of the novel and moseyed over to heave a printed copy off the shelf. Somewhere between dismayed and appalled was my reaction to its length, type size, and tissue-paper page weight (compounded by the fact that the pages are inscrutably numbered in some sort of reverse-order, alternate-reality logic).
It’s fine. I’m enjoying the book, and leaning into all the quotidian details that Murakami invests in utterly tangential descriptions of dinner preparations and laundry habits. (Murakami also rarely misses a chance to describe one of his main character’s breasts in an almost technical detail.) The writing is surprisingly straightforward and stiff compared to his other work. Repetition is a key element in his narrative strategy, along with a hypnotic, just-the-facts chronicling of a reality that slowly diverges from the world we all know. Every once in a while, though, a deft metaphor peeks through, as it does here when a writer and his ultra-suave editor (Komatsu) meet to discuss the novel that he ghostwriting.