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28 April 2012

'1Q84' Books 1, 2, 3 by Haruki Murakami

Sex, violence, unpredictability, a keen awareness of the unknowable, perception of reality, love, indifference, happiness and secrets

Finally, I finished reading them as one book!  It has been ages since 'Kafka on the Shore'.  In the mean time, I read several of Murakami's other books.  The length of 1Q84 made me salivate (mentally, of course, it's been years since I drooled on my books).  It was so much more than I had hoped.  Murakami and his surreal worlds are imaginative, completely subjective yet believable.

This time his story has an under current of menace.  It is a faceless sense of danger that I could not relieve.  Every now and again I would put the book down to catch my breath.  Of course, it would not be long before I picked it back up and got that creepy feeling again.  The book covers just too many topics to discuss here; sex, violence, unpredictability, a keen awareness of the unknowable, perception of reality, love, indifference, happiness and secrets.  Each one of these themes are worthy of independent essays.

Murakami must be a firm believer in individuality and independence, especially when in love.  Live your life based on who you are not who you think you should be or who people tell you to be.  The key, according to this book, ( I think) is to act on that 'belief in yourself'.  You must live according to your principals without the need for a uniform to give you authority and respect.  You also do not need an overbearing, ill-tempered god to give you comfort and security provided you follow a set of arbitrary rules.  Would you act on your belief to protect the weak and innocent if it meant you had to murder one man?  The key is belief in yourself and when in love... belief in each other.  The story uses love in such strange ways that surreal is once again the only way I could describe it.  Reading what I just wrote I realize that this theme of belief and love may not be new but it felt fresh and unique in this book.

1Q84 is a surreal world being subtly contrasted to 1984.  Several of the protagonists realize that they have entered a surreal (alternate) world.  They become aware of the power of narrative and belief.  Religion as the focus of belief is treated as a prop and dismissed as unyielding and cruel.  If you believe in yourself strongly enough God comes to exist, but not in a religious sense.  She becomes a partner, who helps at your request.  Belief in yourself, respect and the willingness to act become the miraculous tools that can change your reality in tangible ways.

The lives of the protagonists down to their most personal relationships change radically in 1Q84 without reason or logic.  1Q84 does not follow the same rules as 1984.  Perhaps the mysterious 'little people' know the rules?  Our protagonists are vulnerable and at the same time powerful because they have patience and a growing belief in their own narrative as opposed to a tale handed to them by family, religion or 'little people'.

By the way, secrets and the unknowable are very different.  A secret is or was known, understood, even if the secret went with someone to the grave.  The unknowable is just that... no beginning, no end, no answers and no apologies.  The protagonists enter 1Q84 without knowing why and must make up their own answers as they go along.  Then they have to believe in those answers.  Just like you and me, perhaps we live life a little more blindly and don't often notice how much we warp reality and create little 2Q12s of our own.

Haruki Murakami 
ISBN: 9781846555497 

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