Tag Archives: 1Q84

ToB: Lightning Rods vs 1Q84

Ah Lightning Rods, the book we have nothing to say about.

Well there goes the last book I’d read in the matchups.  I am indebted to Lightning Rods for knocking out Salvage the Bones , a book I refused to read (dog death), but then it kept on getting up in my face and knocking out things I liked, while not being available in Australia. It sounds interesting and has polarised commentors but seriously I have nothing to say about it. Go check out the matchup comments to see how people who’ve actually read the book feel about it.

1Q84 on the other hand I have lots to say about. But I’ve already said it in three other posts. Previously, on 1Q84 : I really liked it, found it really entertaining the whole time, it was ambitious and often successful, had some minor problems, I didn’t agree with some ToB judge criticisms probably because I didn’t find it as painful as others to get through. I really like soemthing Judge Michelle Orange said: “The emphasis is less on the sentences themselves than their layering and arrangement for cumulative effect. It’s like reading underwater—at times it feels extraordinary, silky, buoyant, and strange, like moving through a new world.” There’s also an interesting discussion of Murakami’s writing style in the commentary.

Goodbye 1Q84! I’m glad you made it this far and not surprised you didn’t make it further. Tune in tomorrow for the last of the semis!

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The Quarterfinals (some of them)

Hello from Venice! That’s right my blogfriends, this post comes to you from halfway around the world, from the city of love! Or is that Paris? Don’t worry,  I will be blogging from there too! Care too much? I believe I care the perfect amount, as officially endorsed by the Tournament of Books reviewers as the best bloggers in the entire world. Their words, not mine.*

But enough about me, let’s talk about books. In a super shock decision on Tuesday Lighning Rods beat The Sense of an Ending. Cmon Roxy Reno, what the hell! Or at least that’s my initial thoughts having not read Lightning Rods. As mentioned before, it’s not possible to get it in Australia and I don’t think it ever will be  due to extremely conservative and fearful publishing strategies. (‘Who’s Jennifer Egan?’ I hear Australians ask until 2011. ‘Oh, she’s just a much lauded, talented writer, with numerous awards and publications to her name.’ ‘Oh she just won the Pullitzer, I guuueesss we can publish her books now, just a small print run though…’) But I digress. I haven’t read Lightning Rods but I sure have read The Sense of an Ending and I know that it is beautiful and elegant and effortless and prize worthy. But hey, it’s not like it hasn’t won any prizes. But if you’re interested in Lightning Rods you should go and read the commentaries and comments left on it’s matchups. There are some really interesting and engaging thoughts by people who’ve actually read it. And just quietly, it’s getting kind of slammed.

Look you guys! It's me, in Venice!

Onto 1Q84 and The Tiger’s Wife (our personal shout out matchup). DISAGREE! As previously mentioned I loved both books. I really really did and would happily recommend either one of them. I loved the carefully manipulated sci-fi-fantasy of 1Q84 with it’s crazy interweaving plot threads and careful study of the mundane. But, for me, The Tiger’s Wife is the winner. It’s so much tighter and I found it more thoughtful, with a more subtle and considered take on the big questions it poses. I didn’t agree with any of the criticisms put up against it. I personally can’t think of one, where I can think of a few complaints for 1Q84. I think I’ve already voiced them but if you want me to elaborate let me know and I will! There was a discussion in the first round match up about rewarding failed literary ambition over the soemthing with a smaller aim. I think that’s what happened here and I don’t think it’s fair. 1Q84 went big, and while it didn’t always succeed, it worked a lot of the time. But The Tiger’s Wife is not short of literary ambition, and it worked all of the time. (Tiger all the time?)

Final note: I’m glad The Art of Fielding seems to have legs as a zombie (zombie legs?) because, like Steven, I am very eager to see it in a matchup with The Marriage Plot. Which I haven’t forgotten by the way! Boy did Steven say some hurtful things. Don’t worry crew, I will take him down next time and I take comfort in the fact that when customers come in to buy the book or talk about how they like it he can’t contradict them. Heyhere’s an idea,  all you fans, go in to Sunflower and tell Steven how much you liked The Marriage Plot! We could make it a thing, like Marriage Plot Fridays or something? I’m happy to make up a roster.

Goodbye for now! I hope you are enjoying Melbourne as much as I am enjoying Italy (did I mention I’m in Venice?)

*Actually my words, not theirs

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ToB: 1Q84 vs The Last Brother

Fay: For once I’ve actually read both books. Quel excietment! I’ve talked about 1Q84 in a previous review so feel free to refer back for my explicit praide of the books. I’m sorry if I overlap.

1Q84 follows the dual stories of Aomame, a gifted personal trainer who kills irreperably violent men who beat their wives. She is self contained and largely friendless, but has a secret and perfect love that keeps her going. Tengo is an aspiring writer convinced to ghostwrite a crazy story written by a seventeen year old so that it will win a prize and shake up the literary world. But she is a very unusual girl and the usually chill Tengo finds himself getting involved with cults, private detectives and hiding missing people. Aomame gets similarly involed and although their paths do not interesect together they tell to story from different angles, revealing different information and insight into a reality that can’t possible be true.

So I complained a lot about 1Q84. I know I did. It made me feel better about spending weeks wading through the biggest book I think I’ve ever read. I think I actually read The Last Brother during one shift at work WHILE I was reading 1Q84.

BUT that being said I enjoyed every minute I spent reading it! I honestly did. I found it immensely readable, very wacky, excellent fun. And not just fun, also interesting thoughts about love and space and time and justice and parenting and the nature of reality. I was excited to get back to reading it, even though it was a complete pain to hold up in bed. Sure, there were flaws. Putting the three books into one meant that there was some overlap at the start of each new section as they explained what had just happened. NOT NECESSARY when you’ve just read what just happened. And it would have been such an easy edit/rework to sort that out! Also I found some of the translation a little clunky. BUT AGAIN, I loved reading it. For weeks! I didn’t get sick of the story, the characters, the general weirdness or the unusual dialogue.  I think that’s quite an achievment.

The Last Brother
on the other hand is very very short. Translated from the French, it tells the story of Raj, a young boy who lives with a violent father in a secluded spot on a Mauritian island. Poor and friendless he takes to following his father to the jail where he works as a guard. Here he encounters David, a young Czechoslovakian boy who has excaped from his home and the Holocaust to find refuge in then Palestine, only to be turned around and sent to jail. The two lonely boys become friends but when Raj decides to break David out of prison the results are…. not good.

The story takes the form of an older man reflecting on his past and as such it is filled with a mix of nostalgia and sadness. The language is lovely, very poetic. And it paints a vivid picture of the jungle that Raj find salvation in, as well as the easy friendship of two young boys who have each been through a lot of suffering. It was good, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as ANY of 1Q84. I don’t know if that’s how you’re supposed to judge books, and there are more constructive things I could say. It was easy to see where The Last Brother was going right from the start. Part of it’s charm lies in it’s simplicity. But 1Q84 was not just literally but literarily a much bigger work, so carefully constructed around a work of insane imagination, pulling in characters and storylines at all the right moments to keep it compelling

I think the jusge made this point (more or less) and that was their reasoning for awarding the win to 1Q84. But I disagree with their judgement that is was 400 pages too long (maybe 200?) and I also disagree that the end fell apart. I thoguht the introduction of the noir element was a successful way to draw the book to a finishing point and a climax to the ending. I think it was even better than Misha Angrist gave it credit for (for more check my previous post).

I also agree with the commenters who found the The Last Brother was emotionally manipulative. I agree that it sometimes felt like it was working for you to cry, which actually worked against it’s sadness at some points.

Steven, any thoughts?

Steven: Nope, haven’t read either.

Fay: Ok, so in summation: my favourite won, both good books, both in store, come by them now.

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