Sayonara Amerika, Sayonara Nippon

1Q84: The Neverending Story

Posted in Books,Japanese literature by bourdaghs on the January 2nd, 2010

A few days ago, I finally managed to drag myself across the final page of the second volume of Murakami Haruki’s latest magnum opus, 1Q84. 1100 pages long, the story of budding novelist Tengo and female assassin Aomame starts out strong, but after a couple hundred pages, it felt like the fizz drained out of the tale. Even Murakami’s usual skill at polishing up gems of sentences seem to fade. I generally like Murakami’s works (I’ll be teaching the brilliant Sputnik Sweetheart this coming quarter, for example), but this one just didn’t do it for me. In particular, the second volume dragged on. And on. And on.

Now word comes that a third volume of the saga will be published in a couple of months. Granted, there are all sorts of loose plot ends to resolve (whatever happened to Komatsu, the editor, for example), but having only just escaped from the tome, I feel little real need to trace those through to some sort of conclusion. On the other hand, with 1100 pages of reading labor already invested in the narrative, can I afford not to read the conclusion when it appears? What is a harried professor of Japanese literature to do?

Maybe I’ll just go back and read 1973-nen no Pinball again. It’s shorter, for starters.

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