16. A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet
1Q84: Vol 1 by Haruki Murakami.
It is fair to say that Haruki Murakami is one of my favorite authors even if his books tend to be a little same-y. They're completely different from anything else, but if you tell me that his new one has a 20 or 30 something adult male searching for greater meaning in his life with the help of old friends and, at some point, a trip down a well, all with a certain mix of Japanese and American styles plus a healthy dose of magical realism, I wouldn't be surprised. 1Q84 is, so far, his biggest work, and it has taken me a few years to build up the courage to attack it. I've heard complaints that it goes nowhere and spends too much time on things that aren't interesting, and that the book is too big for the small amount of plotting it contains, and while I can certainly see where those complaints are coming from after reading roughly the first third of the book (I picked up a copy that maintain's the Japanese release style, three separate books rather than one large one), I can't agree that these "issues" are really problems at all.
The larger page count (even this first third comes in at just under 400 pages) allows Murakami room to indulge in his scene setting and story-within-story tendencies to their fullest. It is no wonder, then, that the world of 1Q84 feels richer than that of smaller, more insular novels like Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki. And it's not even his weirdest world. Maybe, though, that is because I'm still embroiled in the rising action of the story. There are a few mysteries and a potentially malicious force of "Little People" who seem to be some kind of forest-dwelling entities hell-bent on remaining anonymous. Oh, and there's another moon in the sky, smaller and yellower than the normal one, and just off to its side. I'm starting to get hints of Hard-Boiled Wonderland as the two parallel stories, that of a young assassin working for a benevolent rich lady who helps women in abusive relationships and a young author brought in to rewrite a high-schooler's remarkable story about the "Little People", start to intertwine.
Meanwhile, in the books best touch there are over- and undertones of great cult narratives including Orwell's 1984, which gets namechecked pretty often and doubles as the time setting of the novel. We have already gotten a rich history of a communist cult from which a group has splintered and gotten into violent confrontation with the police. It is that cult that our high-school author has escaped from, and from which another young girl escapes into the arms of the assassin. By the end of this opening third both main characters have personal reasons to investigate the strange cult at the center of the novel, a prospect which has me itching to return to the world of 1Q84 as soon as I can.