Warning: major spoilers ahead
I finished the first three chapters of 1Q84 and already some of Murakami’s favorite themes are emerging:
1) Ears, especially ears that are hidden by a woman’s haircuts.
2) The perpetual outsider and his/her perhaps, soulmate.
3) Adolescence and sex (Fuka-Eri and Aomame’s memories of her youthful tryst–which is another theme: Murakami never touches on homosexual experiences between men, only women).
4) A writer.
5) Memories so powerful that they well up and incapacitate you, at least for a moment (and which temporarily erase Aomame’s talent for remembering dates)
6) the chaffeur or guide (Cinnamon Asakasa, the faceless man in the hotel, the old scientist in Hard Boiled Wonderland, Oshima from Kafka on the Shore, the sheep man from A Wild Sheep Chase).
7) And of course starting out the piece with a description of music, in this case Janacek’s Sinfonietta.
8) Two parallel narratives (Aomame’s and Tengo’s) that will presumably come together, like those of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World and Kafka on the Shore.
It’s only been about 30 odd pages, but I like it already. Kafka on the Shore was solidly Freudian (I thought at times that Murakami didn’t quite succeed in his attempt to spice up Oedipus). 1Q84 seems like it might be a bit more purely philosophical consider Aomame’s thoughts on the spider on 29.
The idea of authorship has come up before: I think the young woman’s father in Dance Dance Dance is a second rate author (whose name happens to be an anagram for Haruki Murakami), there is some chance that Toru and Kumiko’s story in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is just an invention of Cinnamon’s, Sumire of Sputnik Sweetheart is an aspiring writer. I have a feeling the Fuka-Eri and Tengo relationship will check off the thirtysomething-man-and-adolescent-girl-forge-a-bond theme and will let Murakami play with the idea of joint or mutual authorship.
Aomame, a woman who makes her way, uh, extralegally and has a certain avenging spirit and desire to put men in their place like a queen and a slave (“she would contort her face only when she was alone or threatening a man who displeased her”) reminded me of Lisbeth Salander from Stieg Larrson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to notice the similarity.