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Haruki Murakami

Friday Things: 01/18 - THE PHANTOM OF MENACE, advice from Haruki Murakami, and a comics challenge

LinksKristina PinoComment

[We had one odd rainy day this week, but overall it's been so nice and sunny! It's nice living by the coast during winter.]

On Books and Comics:

We're getting more Shakespeare's Star Wars books! Yay!

Here's a neat tool that lets you see at what age authors published their breakthrough works, while also displaying pub dates for all released works and other nifty info.

The Panels team have issued a Read Harder challenge of their own. Currently I'm undecided whether I'll commit to it on top of my other reading goals for this year.

On Food:

Read and Eat, a store dedicated to food-related books, is opening in Chicago in April. I really want to go there.

Sir Patrick Stewart proves that he's funny and charming all the time, even when talking about pizza. But yeah, American pizza-eating conventions vs European (and Italian), etc etc.

On Movies:

It's uncanny how sometimes a cosplayer can just totally nail their character

Every Single Disney Reference in Enchanted (if you're into that sort of thing, hah).

Japanese:

The Japanese language is loaded with specific onomatopoeia for all kinds of sounds, including things that don't really make a sound, like clouds. There are catchy onomatopoeia-like words for feelings and textures and such as well, some of which have been translated into chocolate by Oki Sato. The designs look really cool.

Haruki Murakami is opening up an advice column on his website. It's in Japanese, but worry not: here are some instructions in English if you want to submit a question.

Other:

Nice little primer on keeping your sensitive information private, or at the very least, difficult to dig up, online. 

Stuff I wrote:

At Panels: Comics Fetish: Volume 14.

[Have a great week!]

Friday Things: 10/10 - Forever Batman Stamps, Creepy Books for Wimps, and More

LinksKristina PinoComment

[A day late - oops. But here's this weekend's selection.]

On Books:

Cool list of books you can read any time, but particularly now that it's Hispanic heritage month.

Over on Book Riot: "5 More Bookish DIY Costumes For Halloween."

Read a new short story by Haruki Murakami over at The New Yorker.

If you're not into hard horror but want to read some creepy things now that it's near Halloween, here are some suggestions ("Scary Books for Scaredy-Cats").

On Comics:

USPS is selling Batman stamps!

On Panels, I'm participating in a weekly column called Comics Fetish, in which I take turns with a partner listing cool comics-related merch you can buy. This week was my turn.

If you're watching and enjoying Arrow Season 3, consider these book suggestions for some more background on some characters.

On Feminism:

In other feminist news, the latest happening in GamerGate is scary. The whole thing is awful, but geeze.

Colorado's Amendment 67 is kind of...terrifying.

Other:

The Eiffel Tower has a glass floor now too, apparently. I hadn't heard about it until now.

[Until next time...!]

Friday Things: 08/17 - halfway there

LinksKristina Pino1 Comment

[Heya folks! I'm halfway through my vacation, which is a good and a bad thing. The good thing is, I'll be spending less money, haha. The bad thing is, vacation is halfway done! Ahh! But, I still have an awesome week ahead of me, and I made some time to do my weekly link dump. Check it!]

(via GalleyCat) Pay what you want - Doctor Who bundle! Check it out on Story Bundle. From this post's time stamp, there are still four days to grab yours.

(via TOR) Guillermo del Toro's sketchbook. Wowzers. If you're a fan of his films, do check these out.

The latest book by Haruki Murakami will be fully translated into English soon. You don't have much longer to wait!

(via Spoon & Tamago) Amazing ballpoint pen artwork by Shohei Otomo. Seriously, they're stunning.

Delightful Dr Seuss-themed body paint by Made U Look.

(via GeeksAreSexy)Thor's hammer (Mjolnir) bookend by Gentle Giant! Yep.

(via GeeksAreSexy) Link's Master Sword in real life. What?!

10 Books to Read When You're Moving over at Book Riot. Though I moved a few months ago, I'll probably end up picking one or two of these up.

The latest by Lindsey Stirling is another collab with Peter Hollens, and this time it's a Star Wars Medley. And it's so awesome.

Finally, someone else raises the question - why aren't eBooks being bundled with physical copies?

(via Amanda Nelson on Twitter) This woman sings Total Eclipse of the Heart, impersonating 18 different divas. Do yourself a favor and watch it.

[Enjoy!]

Book Review: '1Q84' by Haruki Murakami

BooksKristina Pino2 Comments

After reading 1Q84, I am inclined to believe that I couldn't have introduced myself to Haruki Murakami's work in a better way.

Almost every review I saw from a bigger publication mentioned that the book was pretty much an overnight sensation (instant bestseller), and I believe it. At almost 1,000 pages, it's definitely a time and dedication investment on the part of the reader, but I can promise you one thing: from the get-go, you will not be bored at all. Every page leads fluidly to the next.

Romantic and mysterious at the same time, the book is about a woman called Aomame who is pulled into a parallel world with two moons in the year 1984 (in reference to Orwell's book). She gets sucked into something big, which leads to her eventual reunion with Tengo, a boy she had loved since childhood and is somehow also transported to this other world as another player in the plot. It's hard to explain a lot of the fantastical or mysterious points in the story without giving plot points away, and given that 1Q84 is still relatively new, I'll leave my summary at that. The experience you have while reading the book and getting little bits and pieces of information at a time is important and helps you relate to the characters better. At least, I think so.

I do have much to say on other points, though. For one thing, I wanted to talk about the style and translation. If you have knowledge of the structure of Japanese language and a general idea of their customs, you'll notice right away how beautifully precise the wording is in the novel. It still has the feel of the original script and nuance. The author also employs repetitive descriptions for each character (this is done with great care) in order to be sure the reader is never confused with names, or needing to flip back earlier in the book to look up references for people they encounter.

In terms of the general structure of the book, 1Q84 mostly alternates between Aomame and Tengo from chapter to chapter. It is divided into three parts which span over the course of one year, and it isn't until the third chunk when a third character is added to the mix for added perspective.

The first section is a bit slow, and I don't mean that it was boring or that it dragged. Murakami spends a lot of time setting up the characters and giving you a feel for their surroundings. The last few chapters of section one then drop just enough information that makes you start trying to read faster. The problem with trying to speed through this book though, is you can't. I found myself stumbling over sentences and having to re-read things when I tried to rush it too much. It is clear that 1Q84 is meant to be enjoyed at a relaxed pace. It deserves your time and attention.

Section two is much more fast paced and full of information. Granted, it's information that won't make much sense until it is explored in section three, but nonetheless it will challenge you to set the book down for any extended period. It moves the plot along at an unbelievable pace compared with what you previously read, but leaves the characters in plenty of peril to lead into the last part.

Section three kept me on edge more than anything else. It was more informational and it led gradually to a satisfying end of the story. Yes, folks. While tragic in places, 1Q84 actually does have a positive ending that left me smiling and cheering for the main characters. That is, it ends positively after lots of close calls and a change in tone on the part of the author/narrator. Previously, we only read what was generally in the perspective of the character each chapter focused on. Part three however had a bit of extra information added in so the reader could place each event in separate chapters in time with others, and very precisely.

(Example: If Tamaru had not called Aomame at precisely [that time] and she had been watching the playground instead, she would have seen Tengo and rushed out, only to be seen by Ushikawa who had been following him. This isn't in quotes because it isn't an exact replication of the text, but the situation was later spelled out in this way. He might as well have said, "...but little did she know... Ushikawa was lurking in the bushes!")

The last point I have about 1Q84 is about its physical presentation. The photographs and arrangement for the hardback and dust cover, along with the first few pages on either side and those in between sections are beautiful. The type and the page number arrangement (it's actually in a pattern rather than having a standard spot for the numbers) are attractive and easy to read. The paper is thick and smooth, and the book just feels overall great. The only complaint I have is the physical hard cover seems a bit... flimsy. The novel is enormous, almost 1000 pages as I mentioned before, and I don't think it could manage to stay together for too long. I had the book twisting and sagging on me while reading, and I'm afraid after it has been handled by a few other people or read a couple more times, it might start coming apart. If there is one thing I'd change about it, it'd be to either make it three separate novels packaged together or thicken the cover so it stays intact longer.

All that being said, I can see why 1Q84 made it to so many top fiction lists for the year 2011 (Kirkus, Good Reads and more). I'm happy to have read it and will recommend it to anyone that is willing to give it a try. Don't let the sheer size of the novel keep you away: Murakami will carry you along gently and leave you feeling good. At parts, you might have "reader's paranoia," and feel like you've "seen too much." I had more than my fair share of moments where I've looked up to the sky to check that there was still just one moon hanging in there.

If anything, reading 1Q84 also made me want to explore more of Murakami's work. If it's all as well translated as this novel is, and equally as intriguing or gripping, I am interested. I was invested in Aomame as a character right from the beginning, and I can only imagine that I'll get attached to any character he brings to life.

[Buy 1Q84 on Amazon]

[full front, back and spine image of the cover via]

On '1Q84': Part 1 of 3

BooksKristina PinoComment

I recently started reading 1Q84, and I intend to get through it as efficiently as possible. It took me a couple of months to get through Moby-Duck, and it was probably silly of me to take on another large title so soon after, but this book has been on my reading list since, well, last year. A friend gave it to me for Christmas.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I've never read a prose book that has been translated from Japanese to English, so this is my introduction to Haruki Murakami's style. It's also my introduction to what I assume is a more "Japanese style" of writing opposed to the kind of stories I'm used to. The reason I say this is because by chapter 5, you still have no clue what is going on.

Every chapter feels like an eternity, but I don't mean it in a bad way. Murakami has a way of narrating the story that feels like he has all the time in the world to set it up and give us backgrounds for the characters, and slowly build up to what will eventually be the meat of the story. Then again, maybe he intends the build up to be meatier than the actual "plot." Either way, even with the "slow pacing,"

I haven't been bored in the least. I love the characters. Instead, I've been relaxed. When I initially sat down to read the book, I tried to rush because I wanted to move on and read what comes next, but the book forced me to slow down.

I don't even know how that works, but it's so eloquently written, so perfectly translated and the word choices feel so precise that I feel like it'd be a disservice to the book to try and read it quickly. Instead, I find myself taking my time.

The way the book is put together, each chapter alternates between two different main characters, Aomame and Tengo. Throughout most of the first "book," that is the section which covers January through June of the storyline (the entire thing spans a year), I wonder what the connection is between the two. They don't intersect, and up until almost the end of that first section there was nothing similar about their story lines. They were just going about their lives as things happened to them. I was able to take day-long breaks from reading the book because "nothing was happening anyway."

The author is a clever one, though. I stayed up much too late last night finishing up the last four chapters because I was given a detail that made every difference.

The one detail that I can see will connect their stories, though probably much later in the book. Now, I'm itching to read it. While I'm at work, I think about the location of my car relative to my desk and picture the book sitting on the passenger seat with my Sorting Hat metal book mark at the spot where I left off, the first page of the second section (July through September).

[Buy 1Q84 on Amazon]

[book cover image via - read also for more information about the book]