05 August 2009

1Q84, continued

One of the things that Murakami is so, so good at is just stating shocking facts in the middle of story, when you are least expecting it. This one from 1Q84 reminded me of a line from Norwegian Wood, when Midori kills herself:
環が自殺したのは、二十六歳の誕生日を三日後に控えた、風の強い晩秋の日だった。

which I translate as:
The day Tamaki killed herself was three days before her 26th birthday in late autumn when the wind was strong.

The chapter builds up to this point with almost no hint that it will happen. We see it through the eyes of Tamaki's best friend (the second protagonist in the novel) who helps Tamaki overcome a rape and sees her married to a man whom she says she loves. Murakami gives the slightest hints that there might be a problem in the marriage--she has quit studying for her law exam, but is fine with it, happy to be free of the stress. And then she suddenly kills herself and he peels back the truth of the situation that the relationship was abusive and Tamaki was terribly depressed. It is so subtly Japanese, this sort of thing. You don't know until it all falls apart, and then you have to go back in the chapter to find the hints that he has dropped.

Murakami tells such layered stories. You wonder, why the hell is he including this rambling, unrelated trivia about this character''s life? But by the end of the chapter, it has suddenly become keenly important or devastating. He makes you want to re-read earlier chapters with the knowledge of the later chapters.

I have hit the sweet spot where my knowledge of the story and the characters is stronger than my inadaquacies in Japanese and I can just experience it in the language. It's like floating.
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