I did it. For the first time in a looooong time, I finished a chunkster, and weighing in at a hefty 925 pages, it was a mega-chunkster. Not only that, but I read it in only 4 days! Part of my motivation for reading it so quickly was for a book club discussion. That really gave me the boost I needed. Now I’m encouraged to get to some other tomes I’ve wanted to read like War and Peace, Atlas Shrugged, Gone with the Wind, and Midnight’s Children. Once I get into and start enjoying a longish book, I really do find myself immersed in that world and characters.
I’m not going to go into the plot as it would really take too long and can be found in a multitude of other places; I’ll just give my thoughts on the novel. I found 1Q84 to be extremely engaging. This is only my second Murakami; the first one I read was After Dark, which I also was fascinated by and will probably read again someday. Most readers of my blog know that I’m not big on sex and violence in my reading. Though this book certainly has those elements, I wasn’t bothered by it as much as usual. In fact, in some ways, I thought the some of the violence (not the domestic, though) was a little comical in a Kill Bill sort of way. And some of the sex scenes made me laugh, too — the book was nominated for a Bad Sex Award, after all.
What else was in those 900+ pages that was so engrossing for me? Thoughts on philosophy, religion, free will, music, books, and a Town of Cats just to name a few. There were also minute details of the characters’ days — how they prepared their meals, how they exercised, what they read or wrote. Normally I’m bored to death with details like these in books, but not so here. Why the difference with a Murakami book? I honestly don’t know. He’s just a fascinating author with an amazing talent for drawing his readers into his world.
The book does end somewhat with a conclusion, but after reading 900+ pages of a novel, most readers would expect all the loose ends to be tied up. Not so here — not remotely. Does this bother me? Not really. I guess I enjoyed the journey too much to worry about the destination. I did read in a Murakami interview that there might be a Book 4, or even a Book 0 (prequel). I will definitely be reading that novel if there is one. In the meantime, I’m glad my cats and I have several Murakami’s to curl up with and read together.
I’m really looking forward to this challenge! There are different levels to choose from:
Hajime - Read one book Sheep Man - Read 3 books Toru - Read 5 books Nakata - Read 7 books Sumire - Read 10+ books Super-frog - Read everything Murakami has written! (that is available in English, or your preferred language) For a list of the books available in English, visit the Books Page.
My goal is the Toru level of 5 books. I’ll be happy if I reach Sheep Man of 3, though.
Books I want to read:
Kafka on the Shore
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
A Wild Sheep Chase
I’ll probably save at least 3 of them for Bellezza’s Japanese Literature Challenge later in the year.
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 2009
My grade: A+
I had no idea what Departures was about when I chose it on Netflix instant view. I just knew it won Best Foreign Language Film and it was something about a cello player. I’m kind of glad I didn’t know, because if I had I might not have watched it.
At the beginning of the film, Daigo lives with his wife in a beautiful apartment in Tokyo and is employed by an orchestra. The orchestra ends up disbanding, and Daigo must sell his cello and go back to the town where he grew up because he can’t afford to live in Tokyo any longer. He returns to his childhood home that his mother left him after she died. As he’s searching for a job in the classifieds, he notices an ad for ‘assisting departures.’ Thinking it’s a travel agency, he applies. When he gets to the agency, the boss informs him it was a misprint and ‘departures’ should be ‘the departed.’ The job entails the Japanese tradition of preparing dead bodies for cremation. Needing the job and the money it provides, he reluctantly accepts.
I cannot begin to describe to you the beautiful ceremony of this Japanese custom, and it is all done directly in the presence of the deceased’s family. The care with which the body is prepared astounded me. I was really taken by surprise with this film. Also beautiful was the cinematography. Just gorgeous scenes, and not just the snowy landscapes. The indoor shots were beautiful as well.
I highly recommend this film to anyone with an interest in Japanese culture or in foreign films in general. I really, really loved this one.
He first came to the Iris one day just before the beginning of the summer season.
I was really excited when I received Hotel Iris from Picador in the mail. I hadn’t requested it, but because I loved The Housekeeper and the Professor so much last year, I knew I would want to read this one. The problem was, though, that I didn’t know what it was about. It has a very different ‘love story’ — one that didn’t appeal to me at all.
Mari is a seventeen year old girl working at the front desk of her mother’s hotel when she meets a middle aged man whose voice and manner intrigue her. As they get to know each other, it leads to a sexual relationship involving SM. It wasn’t extremely graphic, but still just not my cup of tea nonetheless.
I still enjoy Ogawa’s writing style and the translation was great, but I just didn’t like the subject matter so unfortunately I was extremely disappointed. However, I’d still read another Ogawa novel — I just would learn more about the storyline first.
“The place I like best in this world is the kitchen.”
I didn’t quite get to Kitchen for the Japanese Challenge, but I’m still glad I read it shortly afterwards. I liked the book, but I didn’t love it.
Food and kitchens play a central role int he book, but it’s essentially about two people finding their way through the grief process. Mikage has recently lost her grandmother, whom she lived with, and her friend Yoichi and his mother Eriko take her in. Yoichi ends up losing someone close to him as well, and the bond between the two of them becomes even closer.
Note: This book has been added as one of the new titles in the latest edition of the 1001 list.
1988, 1993 for the English translation;105 pp. 4/5