1Q84 Book 2 Chapters 16-18

A note on the little project: My favorite contemporary author is Haruki Murakami; his latest work to appear in English translation is 1Q84 and was released in late October, 2011. His novels are often pulpy page turners, and the urge to get to the end to see what happens often hurries me up; I don’t notice things the first time through, and I certainly don’t stop to savor the first reading. So this time I am stopping and smelling the roses, so to speak by blogging about every three chapters I read. I go through them once, think about them for awhile, and then start typing notes—whatever comes to mind—as I skim over the chapters again. Sometimes I refer back to previous sections, but I try to keep it all pretty much within these three chapters. That way I’ll have an ongoing record of my response to the book.

Also, I am reading the book in hard copy. This is odd because I just got a Kindle, which has so far been very useful and has changed my reading habits for the better. I’m doing the hard copy of the Murakami to again be a sort of public reader; it’s a new book, his fans tend to be very loyal, and I am looking to start conversations with random people in a pleasant way.

Letting Off Some Steam

  • Murakami’s set up the dramatic question of the later half of the book—will Tengo and Aomame find each other, will they be able to make it work even if they do, and will it be able to last if they do—and now he’s going about some easy paces after the, uh, climaxes of Tengo having sex with Fuka-Eri and Aomame killing the Leader.1
  • He’s keeping the pot at a simmer however; Aomame and Tengo’s window for finding each other is closing everyday.
  • One part of that is Tengo’s almost comical search for Aomame; as far as we know she’s got a unique name, and yet he is having no luck tracking her down. His list of possible reasons for this ranges from likely (she’s got an unlisted number to protect her privacy) to improbable (“she had died in the spring two years earlier from a virulent influenza” 505).
  • A part of that is having Tamaru give Aomame the run-down of what happened at the hotel after she left, how much danger she’s in, etc.
  • Tamaru tells her the story of the kid who carved rats, and while Aomame interprets it to mean that she is a part of his family, I am not sure if I agree. In the orphanage in which he grew up Tamaru protected the slow child who carved the rats because they were both outsiders; he did that until his need for self-preservation grew too strong and he ran away from the orphanage, leaving the slow boy to fend for himself. Here we’ve got Aomame, another outcast with a very specific skill whom Tamaru is protecting—at least until his need for self-preservation pulls him off.

Violence and Strong Bonds

  • The dowager says that sharing something like killing the Leader with Aomame offers her a “measure of salvation” (514). What could that mean?
  • “To think that such a close connection could only be formed through violence was almost too much for Aomame to bear.” (517).
  • “Violence creates certain kinds of pure relationships” (518).
  • This reminds me of the fivesome from FMD’s Demons.


  • No getting around it; there is something very creepy about Tengo and Fuka-Eri. Aside from the sex-with-an-underage-victim-of-incest stuff, there’s also the possibility that Tengo is becoming a receiver in the same way that the Leader was. Does that mean that he and Aomame will wind up playing for opposing teams, as it were?
  • In fact he wonders if he was using some strange power to draw Aomame closer to himself (525).
  • There is still no indication that Fukada had become the Leader. From everything that Ebisuno said it would be against his character; he is a pragmatic rationalist, where the Leader is clearly a mystic. What happened to change his mind? Was it Fuka-Eri letting the Little People into the commune, like the dwarves letting the Balrog into Moria?

He Sings the Vision Eidetic

  • Tengo’s sense memory from the classroom is almost too good to be believed. There is something mystical going on here, and the only question is what price he will have to pay.
  • Of course the moon plays a role in the memory; the moon as a primordial influence on man.
  • The qualities of the moon change depending on the season (a warm glow versus a sharp outline), just as Aomame’s eyes change in the classroom (529, 527, respectively).
  • Did Aomame trust the moon with her feelings?
  • And of course there are two moons… at least he is in the same world as Aomame.

More Music


[1] It’s lazy interpretation, but I’ll do it anyway; there’s something very suggestive about the fact that Aomame uses a phallic symbol to penetrate and kill men. To make up for the laziness, I’ll drop a [probably misremembered] quote from Norman Mailer’s An American Dream: “There was always something sexual about murder.” If I remember correctly, Mailer’s narrator-protagonist says this as he looks at the moon and considers suicide.

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4 Responses to 1Q84 Book 2 Chapters 16-18

  1. Ian Graye says:

    Aomame kills her victims with a little prick.

    • mikelekich says:

      Undoubtedly true, but I can’t remember what your comment is in reference to. Refresh me?

      • Ian Graye says:

        Sorry, it related to your footnote 1, particularly the first sentence. It was only meant to be facetious. By the way, I’d be interested in your thoughts about whether Leader might be analogous to Emmanuel Goldstein (i.e., Leon Trostsky), hence/because of the ice pick.

      • mikelekich says:

        Ah yes, that makes sense. As for the Emmanuel Goldstein, there is a possible connection, but it comes across a few snags: A) Trotsky had lost an internal power struggle and was on the run, while the Leader seems very much in control of his cult. B) If I remember correctly, Trotsky was killed by a fanatic who was ostensibly devoted to the cause of communism, and while Aomame understands the mindset of the cult, she is hardly sympathetic; if anything I read her as an analogue to Dostoevsky’s quasi-Nietzchean, deocidal individualists. C) Trotsky’s murder was anything but secretive; I missed it while I was there, but you can go to Coyoacan and tour the room in which he was killed (and apparently the guides are quite melodramatic about it). D) There’s an Orwell connection, but it is tenuous at best: 1Q84 was clearly influenced by 1984, but Animal Farm is his supposed parable for the Russian Revolution.

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