Tying up loose (book) ends
What’s the longest book you’ve ever read? For me, it’s 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I finally finished it last weekend, and feel like I’ve accomplished a major feat. I wanted to finish it in 2012 and start 2013 with an open dance card. Though I’m embarrassed to say that I started the book in July! I’m a slow-ish reader, at least compared to the mach 1 reading pace of my husband. And I often get distracted by other smaller books and magazines that I pick up along the way: over Christmas I read a great Agatha Christie mystery and Vanity Fair’s comedy issue cover to cover.
1Q84 is classic Murakami: bizarre but engaging. It was originally published in three parts in Japanese, but the English translation is one massive 925-page book. I wouldn’t call it science fiction, but it’s definitely otherworldly. I was a bit frustrated that Murakami didn’t solve all of the mysteries by the end (and frankly, after 925 pages, I felt I deserved more resolution) but the important questions were answered, or at least the remaining questions were tolerable.
If an author doesn’t answer all of the questions in a book, I at least want to believe that they know the answers. They just didn’t feel the need to reveal them all. I hate to think that an author (or TV producer, ahem, LOST, I’m looking at you) created a world that doesn’t actually hang together with a central logic.
But at the other extreme, the Agatha Christie murder-mystery I read, And Then There Were None, was neatly wrapped up – the epilogue spells out in painstaking detail which holiday guest was the culprit and how he managed to pull off 10 murders on a secluded island (including his own). It was fun, but forgettable.
Maybe the most powerful stories are those that convince you that there is an underlying logic, but leave some questions open, ensuring you won’t soon stop thinking about the world that you’ve been drawn into. 1Q84 is that kind of book.