I’ve been known to read a lot. I mean, really a lot. Not a single day goes by when I don’t get lost in the fantasy world that authors create for me. I can even spend my entire life (or lives too, if I’m lucky enough to have more than one) navigating through the literary passageways without tiring, and without complaining. Just give me a goddamn book!
From all the books that I’ve read, I can surmise that they are of three kinds –
- The first kind are absolute trash. When I come across such a book, I either mechanically go through the motions of reading the text (just for the sake of reading it), or I leave it half way. Believe me, nothing can be more derogatory for a book than a reader leaving it before it is finished. So yeah, I can be cold when it comes to the wrong kind of literature.
- The second kind of books are well-written page turners. Think of a Dan Brown for example… Once you start reading it, there’s no going back. You either complete the book or you rot in hell. There is no third option. When I come across such a book, I’m overcome by a desire to finish it as soon as possible. No matter what I miss in between, but all I can do while there are still pages left to read is to keep reading. I forget everything else that has to be done, or that should be done. And when it is finished, I don’t heave a sigh of relief, I heave a sigh of triumph (if it can be heaved, that is!). I feel satisfied for having done this. I feel happy as I read that last line. There is literally a noticeable smile on my face as I turn over the last page and close the book.
- There is a third kind of book too. This third kind of book is extremely well-written. It takes the work of a passionate to produce such kind of literature. And when you find such kind of literature, you are mesmerized. You care not about the size of the thing. You care not about the scale of the thing. You want to get lost in the world that the author has created, but not in a normal kind of way. The problem is that you never want to come back to your own world, because the other one is much more comfortable to live in. When you are reading, the line between fact and fiction blurs into non-existence, and it becomes difficult for you to distinguish between the two. If the author describes a world with two moons, you instinctively look up in the sky to count. If the author mentions a fictional town, you want to look it up on the map. If the author talks about a special power that everyone in his world has, you start looking for it inside yourself. Magical realism.
I have found the third kind of book. It is called 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.
I have finished reading it just half an hour ago, and believe me, I am sad. Because I wanted to keep reading it for the rest of my life. It was a rather large book to start with—more than a thousand pages long. It took a long time for me to finish it, but then, I did finish it. Now nothing can be done about it.
The story of 1Q84 is complex. But when you get around to reading it, you do not feel it at all. Murakami explains the finer points in such a subtle way in his text that you feel that you’ve known them all along. Yes, it is a world with two moons. And there may not be a way back. Most of what he’s written in 1Q84 will sound weird to any logical person, but he will come to terms with it. Eventually. That is the beauty of Murakami’s work. No matter how improbable it may sound, you will accept it.
There is a certain romance in his writing that keeps you hooked to those little black words and before you know it, you are wandering on the streets of Tokyo. Your life seems to be intertwined with those of Aomame and Tengo. You laugh with them, weep with them, mourn with them, sympathize with them, fear for them, encourage them… They become your new best friends! You are as mindboggled as Tengo is when you meet Fuka-Eri. You are as confident as Aomame is when she goes out to kill. The book is about an alternate reality. And you start to live in it.
Murakami’s literary style is absorbing. He transports your soul into his text. The detailed imagery that he uses to describe even the smallest possible details confirm that he is indeed the master of his craft. You tend to lose the passage of time when you are reading him.
You know, something happened to me when I realized that the book was about to end. I slowed my pace of reading, so as to prolong the moment when I will turn to the last page. I never do that. But for the sake of 1Q84, I broke my personal rule. I wanted it to keep going on and on and on. I hope you feel the same way when you read it.
Please read it, because finding a book of the third kind is not so easy as it sounds!