After my amazing luck with John Boyne’s The Absolutist last year, I decided to always keep an eye on Other Press releases and I’m glad I did. I requested a copy of this book directly from the publisher and I quite enjoyed it. This is my honest response and I received nothing in return.
To start, I’d like to say that the only other review on Goodreads is worthless (to me, at least). Why bother reviewing a book if that’s all you’re going to say? The person has, in essence, re-written the synopsis of the novel (on the back cover), without any additional insight or synthesis and it came across as snide to me. If you didn’t want to read “frothy froth about rich French people and their angst,” then why’d you read it? It never pretended to be anything else and that’s why I appreciated this novel. It’s times like this when I wish I could give half stars on Goodreads because it’s not quite what I would consider 5 stars, but not quite as low as 4 stars. Now on to my response.
This novel is everything that it claims to be, an amusing inside look at the codes, manners, and morals of high society, and it’s nothing more.So if you don’t want to read a comedy of manners, then don’t. It’s sort of what I imagine Austen’s works were like when they were first published and reactions were similar to the Goodreads reviewer’s.
WARNING and APOLOGY: this post starts with a rather long tangent about literature, art and people. (Sorry! Probably should be two posts, but I’m lazy.) If you don’t really want to read it (but you should there are a few great quotes) skip to after the third block quote. And to get it out-of-the-way, The Picture of Dorian Gray is the January read for my books into movies book group at the local library and conveniently appears on my Mount TBR (extended) list and my Classics Club list!
Now for my tangent, I’ve noticed as I read a wider variety of literature that the authors I’m drawn to have a lot to say about books, reading and writing. I have a lot of respect for authors who are able to reflect on writing, books, and literature within their own books and stories. In his forward to The Portrait of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde writes the below quote.
“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.” (4)
And I can’t help but appreciate how incredibly insightful and powerful this is. Imagine if all the people threatened by books, who’ve burned books, who attempt to ban books, and those who just refuse to read certain books actually understood this. I love this quote so much it’s my new email signature and I’ve added it to the great book quotes on my sidebar (only the third)!
It may have taken two weeks to read this book, but it was completely worth it. I don’t know the last time I’ve spent this much time basking in the beauty and wonderment of a novel. 1Q84 counts for my 2013 Mount TBR and Tea & Books challenges. Now on to my response, which is jumpy and hardly all-inclusive, but hopefully it portrays some of the wondrousness this novel is. Let’s just say I can’t wait to read more Murakami, regardless of if it’s a mind f*ck like Kafka on the Shore or like 1Q84, which is also technically a mind f*ck.
How does one even begin to classify Murakami. From the two books I’ve read the only things I can definitely say are that he defies genres and bucks trends, is incredibly well versed in classic literature and music and popular culture (films and music) and his descriptions are so vivid you don’t have to strive to imagine things because you see them completely formed in front of you. What I can appreciate is Murakami usually drops a line into his books which perfectly explain the books (so far, again I’ve only read two) and this books is (NOT A REAL SPOILER, but maybe skip the quote if you don’t want to know anything – the rest is okay though.), Click here to continue reading
I’m so disappointed I didn’t discover this book in High School, but at the same time I really doubt I would’ve appreciated it as much as I do now. Although I was an incredibly straight-laced kid in High School and couldn’t relate to some parts of the novel as a high school student (sex, drugs, partying, Rocky Horror?!?), I could definitely relate to many other parts. I haven’t seen the film but will definitely see it soon. I’m still shaking my head wondering what took me so long to read this book!
The scene where Charlie gave out perfect Christmas presents to each of the people in his immediate circle of friends, just from having listened to them was great! I mean that is the same thing I do. I listen and suck in all the details about people and then awkwardly regurgitate facts to them later about what they’ve said at that party or at previous parties. It’s a great party trick, but at the same time it often makes me come across as anti-social or creepy (so I assume, no one has ever reinforced this thought).
What a wonderful novel AND a beautiful film! The day I bought this book my roommate asked if I wanted to go see the film and after a lot of internal dialogue made external I decided to see the film before reading the book and it was well worth it. The score of the film was one of the most beautiful I’ve heard in ages and it was also visually stunning.
I knew this would be a good novel because it was only short listed for the Man Booker Prize! It was nominated for and won a few other awards. I’m still convinced, in general, the runners-up on the shortlist are often better than the winners. I have read the winner that year, Alan Hollinghurt’s The Line of Beauty, and although I really enjoyed Hollinghurst’s novel it was a tome and I struggled, so this book was easier to read and I would say more enjoyable for it’s set up and it’s approachability.