My Rite to Read

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

IQ84 stays with you, even if you may not want to pick up the sequel

Haruki Murakami captures for me an ageless world, obsessively introspective to a T. Each of his characters,  as mystical as the other: An aspiring writer, a female late-adolescent delinquent, a policewoman, a writer like dyslexic teenager, men in power, men without power --neo-human oddballs trapped in steamy lives as close to nature, as far from order. What moves me is the restraint and controlled dialogue between characters, stemming from the author's own discipline, I began recognizing and falling in love with in his previous work of non-fiction, What I do When I talk about Running (Harvill Secker), which is of course, a stringent (but no less warm) insight into the transformation of a non-runner into a triathlete, and how this coincided with if not exactly spurred his writing journey.  

'Decent Motives don't always produce decent results. And the body is not the only target of rape. Violence does not always take visible form, and not all wounds gush blood.'

Book One traces the interconnected lives of protagonists Aomeme and Tengo who with their altar characters in their professional and private universes are living elevated lives, the base for this trilogy. This first book is not a mystery story, but the mere backdrop for a mystery which thickens around an incident or a series of incidents, in fact a massacre, or perhaps several massacres and hitherto concealed religious crimes and heinous acts of violence perpetrated by a religious commune called the Sakigake--which sounds "more like the kind of name that would be attached to a Japanese super express train than to a religion."

Daunted by their own misery memoirs, protagonists play police and criminal, adopting and stripping ethics to suit their goals, as we follow a teeny bopper dyslexic author's curve to celebrity, her academic guardian, a grandiose expansionary editor, a restrained schoolteacher and ghost novelist, and a daring woman whose only salvation is her one-sided love for a boy she has never met since she was ten which she likens to the Tibeten Wheel of the Passions--"as the wheel turns, the values and feelings on the outer rim rise and fall, shining or sinking into darkness. But true love stays fastened to the axle and doesn't move." Can one rewrite history in order to fix the present? Is there another world with two moons that has a history different from our present world with a single moon? And can only the gifted few have access to both worlds?

If George Orwell's 1984 coined the famous Big Brother gaze,  IQ84 seethes with hegemonic 'Little People' who are constantly policing the way we view history, the future. The technological awareness that graces this story, is a bit too advanced for it to be actually set in 1984. However, the violence, conversations, characters with Murakamian sex and criminal pathos, all add up to a slow, gripping read.  It sent a few chills down my spine, and had me shrieking once the lights went out. "Crime was not the responsibility of the person himself as that he was led astray by moonlight," explains the least forthcoming character in this book, after differentiating the lunatic (someone whose sanity is temporarily seized by the moon) from the insane (someone with an innate mental problem) to her boyfriend.  

This book has spiritual finesse with all the predictable leads that come from synthesis and perfection, and while I may not exactly run to pick up book 2 and book 3, I am certain of a linguistic feast and emotional retreat from the ordinary.  Moreover, Murakami's characters visit me in my sleep and waking hours: because a Murakami character has no character greater than that, ie., he/she is a Murakami.

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