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"This is a book for both the new and experienced reader."
August 12, 2014 8:30 AM   Subscribe


 
"“I love how he weaves the interdimensional and the mundane and the offhanded way certain characters negotiate these shifts,” Smith said. “I love that there are sequels and reoccurring characters. Like Roberto Bolaño, he offers an ever-expanding, interconnected universe.” ~ Patti Smith
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posted by Fizz at 8:39 AM on August 12


I can't watch this yet, because work, but... this is a bit like Christmas in August.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:44 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I pre-ordered this from Amazon a month ago. It better be there waiting when I get home from work today.
posted by dortmunder at 8:51 AM on August 12


I just want to hang out with Patti Smith and talk about Bolaño.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:52 AM on August 12 [6 favorites]


She writes like a demon, and I always appreciate it.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 8:53 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Are there spoilers in this review?
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:06 AM on August 12


SPOILER: a disengaged young man drifts though a series of experiences; some mundane and some uncanny. Connections between these experiences remain obscure.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:15 AM on August 12 [31 favorites]


If by spoiler you mean a lot the story revealed, then yes. I didn't read it all because of that, but it looks like the first three and last three paragraphs are more or less safe.n As with a lot of p/reviews nowadays I suggest waiting to read it after you've read it.

I stopped reading both IQ84 and 2666 halfway through and hope that this next, non-numerical effort will bring me back on the track.
posted by KMB at 9:20 AM on August 12


Yeah Murakami really did a bad job writing 2666.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:23 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]


After reading three Murakami novels (Wind up Bird Chronicles, 1Q84, and I forget which other one) I have determined that he has one good story in him that he writes again and again, changing the details. Any given one is great, but I wouldn't recommend anyone read his entire ouvre. Then again, I probably will read his new book eventually- even if he sticks to the usual tropes he is really good at setting a mood and his writing takes me to another place.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:28 AM on August 12 [3 favorites]


I AM VERY EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK
posted by Windigo at 9:40 AM on August 12


After reading three Murakami novels (Wind up Bird Chronicles, 1Q84, and I forget which other one) I have determined that he has one good story in him that he writes again and again, changing the details.

I like Dance Dance Dance and A Wild Sheep Chase best as far as his magical realism type books go. They're much shorter than The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and some of his more recent ones but just as essentially Murakami.
posted by ChuckRamone at 9:49 AM on August 12


I do love Patti Smith, but she's a bit like the painters who always place signature symbols in their work. I don't think there's a subject in the world she can't relate to Bob Dylan somehow.
posted by mykescipark at 9:59 AM on August 12


I stopped reading both IQ84 and 2666 halfway through and hope that this next, non-numerical effort will bring me back on the track.

2666 is worth it. You have to slog through the part about the murders, but it's worth it.

1Q84 is not worth it. I enjoyed reading every sentence of it individually, but the book as a whole was boring.
posted by GrapeApiary at 10:03 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I'm reading it now and I'm REALLY enjoying it so far. It's very . . . Murakami, but the character/plot stuff still feels kind of fresh. I'm finding myself much more immersed than I usually am while reading.
posted by leesh at 10:03 AM on August 12


I like Dance Dance Dance and A Wild Sheep Chase best as far as his magical realism type books go. They're much shorter than The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and some of his more recent ones but just as essentially Murakami.

Have you read Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World? It's a great magical realism one, and probably my single favorite Murakami.

After reading three Murakami novels (Wind up Bird Chronicles, 1Q84, and I forget which other one) I have determined that he has one good story in him that he writes again and again, changing the details.

Nah, you just happened to read two that are more similar than most. Try some more (especially some of his earlier stuff) before you make a inal judgement.
posted by Itaxpica at 10:11 AM on August 12 [4 favorites]


Have you read Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World? It's a great magical realism one, and probably my single favorite Murakami.

No, I haven't. But the synopsis sounds pretty awesome, like a PKD book.
posted by ChuckRamone at 10:25 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Have you read Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World? It's a great magical realism one, and probably my single favorite Murakami.

Seconded.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:36 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


What's the general buzz on this one? The AV Club gave it a good review, but their book coverage is so random that I've never fully trusted their reviews. I do trust Patti Smith, of course, but I'm not sure I'll read a book based solely on her review. What's the critical consensus?
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:39 AM on August 12


I don't think there's a subject in the world she can't relate to Bob Dylan somehow.

That doesn't seem like that much of a challenge. I mean, say what you will about Bob Dylan, but "restricted to a narrow range of human experience" surely isn't what leaps to anyone's mind with regard to his lyrics?
posted by yoink at 10:48 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


So here is my Murakami story. One of my closest friends was shopping for me for Christmas at the local bookstore and she ran into my favourite English Lit. professor. He taught us Modernism and is a big deal in certain Joyce scholar circles. She knew that I respected him and was kind of awe of everything about him. She asked him if he had an great ideas. He picked up 'Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World'.

A few weeks later on Christmas morning I opened up my gift and inside was a small note from her and my professor. I consumed that book in three days and I felt like I had fallen down a rabbit hole. If you've read any Murakami you'll know that this feeling is familiar. There's something wonderful about his books, about not knowing where you'll end up or who you'll meet. His characters are always distinct and remain with you. You carry them everywhere.

I cannot wait to start this one. I'm currently finishing up a book by John le Carré, but Murakami is up next.
posted by Fizz at 10:48 AM on August 12


I am uncertain as to whether or not I like the concept of this book trailer thing.
posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on August 12


1Q84 is not worth it.

The thing I found most annoying about 1Q84 was the repetition. If you read as the Japanese did, as three separate novels over the space over several years, this might not have been a problem. But the English version, a single 950-page whale, is a disappointment. I'd love to see a good editor cut it down to about 450 pages; I bet it would be dynamite.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:12 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Yeah I was let down by IQ84 as well. So very repetitive. The story was intriguing, but it could've been told in half the length. And before that, Kafka on the Beach failed to work for me--a lot of old man's wisdom coming from the mouth of a young teenager was a bridge too far.

I've read that Colorless is more like The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, which I love, so I may just give Murakami one more chance.
posted by zardoz at 12:06 PM on August 12


*agrees with elizardbits*
posted by [@I][:+:][@I] at 12:23 PM on August 12


The thing I found most annoying about 1Q84 was the repetition. If you read as the Japanese did, as three separate novels over the space over several years, this might not have been a problem.

That is how he writes. You might enjoy this old essay on Japanese vs English literary forms.

Hinds.. asserts that Japanese rhetorical organizational patterns take a quasi-inductive style. He said: "A major difference between rhetorical conventions in Japanese and English involves the order in which information is presented" (1995: 85). According to him, Japanese prefer to present information in an inductive manner: they present specifics first and then state the generalization at the end. In other words, the background information precedes the main idea. Westerners, on the other hand, prefer a deductive manner: they begin with a generalization and then go on to discuss particulars.

Murakami can take this to the extreme, giving page after page of information that the reader is expected to organize and deduce the meaning. And since there is often no explicit meaning, he can go on and on building impressions and never get to a central idea.

But the English version, a single 950-page whale, is a disappointment. I'd love to see a good editor cut it down to about 450 pages; I bet it would be dynamite.

No. You didn't see what an editor did to Underground. I read it in Japanese first, then a few years later I read the English edition. I was shocked, the meaning was entirely different.
posted by charlie don't surf at 12:40 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


SPOILER: a disengaged young man drifts though a series of experiences; some mundane and some uncanny. Connections between these experiences remain obscure.

Also: sexy ears.
posted by Reyturner at 12:51 PM on August 12


I'm a big fan of Murakami's work, but I too failed to chew my way through 1Q84. The ideas are marvelous, the moment-to-moment writing is great, but the pacing is just too slow. I picked up the audiobook though, and am making progress through it that way. I get less restless if I can listen to it while doing some picross puzzles or noodling around in a low-impact video game. It's a well-produced audiobook, with separate readers for the three main characters, and they express the voices well. (And if you aren't an Audible member, you can get it for free as a trial offer.)
posted by rifflesby at 1:25 PM on August 12


No. You didn't see what an editor did to Underground. I read it in Japanese first, then a few years later I read the English edition. I was shocked, the meaning was entirely different.

Would you mind expanding on this? I've only read the english version, so am wondering what I've missed.
posted by dng at 1:38 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


1Q84 sent me into a slow-burn rage that built and built till I just had to post an unkind review on Goodreads... and I usually only review the stuff I like. I shouldered my way to the end of that endless, airless hall of a novel, and when I wound down I was no longer a Murakami fan.

Depending on the word-count, I might give this one a go. Patti liking it is one thing it has going for it.
posted by misterbee at 5:07 PM on August 12


I shouldered my way to the end of that endless, airless hall of a novel, and when I wound down I was no longer a Murakami fan.

Fear of this fate is exactly what has kept me, an otherwise die-hard Murakami reader, from starting 1Q84.

I also fear that new Murakami readers will start with one of the more plodding novels that are, in my opinion at least, weaker, like The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and form a bad opinion overall, instead of more fun mysteries like Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World. If you are a newcomer to Murakami and you are contemplating a copy of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle don't touch it! Leave it aside! Throw it away! Read Hard-Boiled Wonderland! That's the one! That's the best one!

Anyway, I have a good feeling about Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and I will be hunting down a copy right quick.
posted by branduno at 5:47 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Would you mind expanding on this? I've only read the english version, so am wondering what I've missed.

It's been a while, I should go back and reread them. The English edition was considerably shorter, there were several big interviews omitted and IIRC one of Murukami's most important essays was omitted. And I recall there was a new essay to end the book that wasn't in the original. It was like the English edition was completely redone, simplified for a Western audience. The original edition was an exploration of how the subways were like Japan's underworld, the attack struck the place where Japan's collective subconscious dwells. It could not have been foreseen because Aum as a group was outside of the consciousness of "normal society." I don't recall getting this from the English edition.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:42 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I'm inclined to believe for a lot of people their favourite Murakami is the first or second they read. As you continue reading his books, his tics and tricks become ever more noticeable until you feel the novels are just framing holding these things up. After, hmm, five of his books, I'm tapped out. Especially after Kafka, which I really felt was just a shittier version of his earlier books, and really lacking in originality.

But those first couple of books you read, just terrific. I wonder if his obsession with hand jobs has abated in this book.
posted by smoke at 7:17 PM on August 12


Man, I loved 1Q84. Put a tiger in your tank. The two moons. Air Chrysalis. NHK fees. Town of cats. These passages are as memorable and enjoyable as anything I've ever read.

It irritates me when people bring up cats or handjobs or whatever. Murakami isn't obsessed with them. You know Monet? Painted haystacks and water lilies over and over. It's a serial motif. It stands for something. It gives a kind of unity to his works.

Murakami's mentioned that he prefers writing short stories to novels. If you're tired of repetition, they're definitely something to look into. after the quake contains some of the most beautiful prose I've seen, period.
posted by Quilford at 3:30 AM on August 13


I also think it really really helps to have at least basic knowledge of Japanese culture and history, particularly in the late 70s/80s when he first started writing. You would be absolutely lost for the meaning of the novel if you started reading, for example, Frankenstein, without any notion of Shelley's own life and what was going on in the world around her. For most of us, I think Japanese history and culture is as foreign a context as the 19th century; why not familiarise yourself with what the author was responding to before you start making judgements about how obscure the meaning of their work is?
posted by Quilford at 3:45 AM on August 13


I'm inclined to believe for a lot of people their favourite Murakami is the first or second they read.

Yeah, this is definitely a thing. I look at people who think Wind-Up Bird is his weakest one with pure bafflement. (That award goes to Kafka on the Shore.)
posted by rifflesby at 7:49 AM on August 13


I think 1Q84 was all right but definitely not my favorite. I have a soft spot for some of his shorter stuff, particularly Sputnik Sweetheart (and it was my K.-like friend who got me to join Mefi in the first place). I'm excited about Tskuru Tazaki.

I would also like to take a moment to appreciate the cover art for Murakami's books, which IMO is fantastic, and this looks to be no exception.
posted by ferret branca at 8:36 AM on August 13


The UK version is quite different to that, although it does come with a big sheet of stickers on the inside cover.
posted by dng at 9:43 AM on August 13


Stickers?! Arrrrgh I'd have to pay double cover price to import that edition :( Why can't we have nice things over here
posted by rifflesby at 10:26 AM on August 13


Metafilter: obsession with handjobs has abated in this book.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:43 AM on August 13


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