#95 A Review of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Narrated by Alison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, and Mark Boyett

Last year I got addicted to audio books!  Simon Vance, the BEST audio book narrator in the world in my opinion, roped me in to the audio book world when I listened to him narrate The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  I find myself always picking audio books that are for long and complex novels.  Something about listening to complex novels vs. reading them makes them more approachable for me.  When I finished listening to The Millennium Trilogy I immediately began searching out my next audio book.  I was hearing a lot of mixed things about a book by Haruki Murakami, 1Q84.  The book was originally published as three novels in Japan and was translated and compiled as one book upon its release in the US.  When I read the plot summary I was immediately drawn into what I knew would be an intriguing journey.  That journey turned out to be more complex than I thought, and instead of summarizing the plot and trying to explain it myself, I’ve decided to let Goodreads do it for me:

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

There is no question that Murakami is an awesomely talented writer.  He is able to weave several peoples’ lives across time and space with this completely unique storyline.  While the concept was awesome and unique, its execution fell flat for me.  I understand that it was originally published as three novels and translated and published as one, but even when taking that in to account a good 30% could have been cut out.  By the end of the book I wanted to rip my hair out with the constant repetition of dialogue.  One character would make a statement, “You’re being watched.”  The other person would respond, “I”m being watched?” To which the first person would again repeat, “You’re being watched.”  After 40+ hours of dialogue like that, I’m sure it’s easy to understand my frustration.

The narration of the novel by Alison Hiroto and Marc Vietor was well done.  I enjoyed their renditions and felt closer to both Aomame and Tengo as a result of it.  The only part of their narrations that threw me off a bit was their pronunciations of the names of characters/places present in both of their stories.  Vietor’s pronunciation of Aomame was different than Hiroto’s, which confused me slightly the first few times I heard it.  However, besides that snag, the different tones they each used to represent different characters helped alleviate any confusion when the dialogue were being read.

So, despite the lackluster ending and multiple plot holes left open I still enjoyed taking the journey with Aomame and Tengo.  I wouldn’t be opposed to trying another of Murakami’s novels, but I definitely won’t attempt another of his works at this length.

3 out of 5 Stars

This is my first completed review for the Audio Book Challenge

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Brilliance Audio (2011)
CD: 46 hours, 46 minuts
ISBN: 9781455830503

The September Round Up!

September has come and gone and with it all of my beloved warm weather!  While I love fall in New England (nothing beats fall foliage) it’s a sad reminder to me that winter is coming.  With tons of outdoor activities at my disposal I strived to fill each weekend in September with something to do outside.

Our first weekend took us to visit my cousin Allison and her boyfriend James down in Long Island.  James was just sent back out to Afghanistan, so it was incredibly important to us to go spend time with him before he left.  He’s a great guy and we love him a lot  (please keep him in your thoughts over the next four months).  Knowing the four of us share a love of beers, he took us on a bit of a brewery tour of Long Island.  The highlight was definitely our trip to Blue Point Brewery, which is the brewery that just so happens to make my favorite beer.  Some great barbecue and beer wrapped up our trip and we headed back to Connecticut for Memorial Day festivities.

South Memorial Pool

The following week we took a trip down to New York City to see Adam (yes, staff blogger Adam) and the 9-11 Memorial.  I have to say I’m really ashamed that it was my first trip to the memorial.  I grew up 15 minutes away from NYC and remember the destruction of that day, the smoke that was above the city for weeks afterwards, etc.  With 2012 the 11th anniversary of the attacks I knew it was time to get my butt down there.  Adam and Todd coordinated and acquired our tickets (which are free) and made final plans.  We took the train down from Connecticut, meeting Adam for a quick lunch before the security process began.  If you’re planning on going to see the memorial give yourself at least a half hour before your ticket time to make it through security.  It’s exactly like airport security – take off your bags, take out electronics, walk through metal detectors, etc.  Anyway a short hike and some twist and turns later we made it into the memorial park.  My first thought was even with the ongoing construction of the Freedom Tower it was still such a peaceful place.  The memorial pools are absolutely enormous, it was incredible to see just how wide the towers were.  The entire visit was one I won’t soon forget.  Even though the entire memorial is just that, a memorial, there is still a message of hope there.  All of the trees in the park are the same, except one.  When the rubble of 9-11 was being sifted through a tree stump was found.  It was from a tree that was planted in the Trade Center in the 1970’s.  Rescue workers dug up the tree and moved it to a park to see if it could be saved. It was, and when the memorial was opened the tree found its way back home and is now the only non white oak tree in the entire park.

The following week we celebrated my birthday with a trip to RJ Julia to see Kati Marton speak about her newest book Paris: A Love Story and an evening out for sushi and laugh.  It’s one of the most memorable birthdays I’ve had in a long time and on filled with my two favorite things: friends and books.  I want to quickly go back to seeing Kati speak for a minute.  She was one of the most eloquent, classy, and fascinating authors I’ve seen speak in a while.  Her book is all about her love affair with Paris, the role it played in her two marriages, and how it’s helped her recuperate since the death of her second husband.  I’m really excited that I have a signed copy and can’t wait to dig in!

The biggest event of the month (and Todd’s favorite) was our trip to The Big E.  The Big E is the Northeastern State Expo in Massachusetts.  It represents the states of  Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts.  The event has rides, concerts, shows, animals, and Todd’s favorite thing…..food.  Each year he tries to outdo the amount of food he ate the year prior.  His list this year included a massive cheesesteak (see right), gyro, chili cheese fries, maple cones, beers, and his favorite….fried Oreos.  Y’all have seen photos of Todd on the blog before, he’s not a big guy.  Where he puts all this food is still a mystery to me.  Anyway, back to the festivities.  Each state that The Big E represents has an enormous permanent building in the fairgrounds.  Each state puts food, crafts, and businesses that best represent their state in their building. (i.e Vermont has Ben & Jerry’s, Connecticut has the Lego Factory, Rhode Island has a chowder station, etc) .  We were able to find some really cool great things in each of the state buildings to give as Christmas gifts this year (I’d tell you what they were but our families read the blog).  In short we had a blast and can’t wait till next fall when we get to go again.  If you live in Springfield, MA area I highly recommend making the trip out to attend.  You’ll seriously have a blast.

And now we come to the month of September.  Todd spent the last few days away in upstate NY running a team relay race called RAGNAR.  Basically a team of 12 people runs 200 miles in 36 hours.  Each person is responsible for 3 legs of the race totaling around 15-20 miles.  When I talked to Todd upon his completion of the race he said “my legs may never be the same again.” HAHA.  I’m very proud of him and can’t wait to see if he’ll do it again next year!  While he was off running I attended a Dropkick Murphy’s show at my Alma mater, Quinnipiac University.  QU has one of the largest collections of documents, art, etc about the Irish Famine.  The collection used to be housed in our University’s library but has grown so large it needed to be moved to a new building.  To kick off the grand opening of the museum the University hired one of the most well known Celtic Irish rock bands to come perform free for students, alumni, and faculty.  It was a great show, one I was super lucky to be able to see with staff blogger Jess and my former college roommate Kate.

And now on to the reading front! I finished 22 books in September bringing the year-to-date total to 148. I took a break from “review books” during September and read a bunch of books from my own piles. My favorite book of the month was Karen Witemeyer’s To Win Her Heart.  I’ll be posting a review in the next week or so.  Big milestone of the month for me was the completion of the audiobook I’ve been listening to since February, 1Q84.  It took FOREVER to get through that book.  I’ll explain more once I post my review.

In closing I ask what did you do/read last month?

Happy Reading!