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Big books need savoring. I usually have one door stop book going, along with the shorter books I tear through in a couple of days. Normally a chunkster will take me three or four months. Sometimes Ñ like Ulyssses, it will take me six months. In the case of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, I needed fifty weeks.
1Q84 was originally published as three books over the course of 2010 - 2011. The first imported translation has all three books in one volume — and that's the one I read. The books, though, are still labeled. Books one and two contain the bulk of the novel's pages, with the final book working like an extended coda.
The first two books are told as parallel stories: that of Aomame, a fitness instructor and part-time hit woman, and Tengo, an editor and part-time mathematics cram tutor. Both have their lives fundamentally changed after making unusual, split-decisions. Aomame having an appointment to keep, leaves her taxi on the crowded overhead freeway to take the emergency stairs in hopes of catching a subway train. After leaving the stairway she beings to notice changes in the world. Tengo, meanwhile, agrees to ghostwrite (re-write) the novella of a teenage girl for entry into a literary competition. The novella ends up winning the prize, thus lifting the book into best seller status and the girl into unexpected fame.
Now while there is a parallel earth — coined 1Q84 by Aomame — most of the novel is more personal and character oriented. Tengo has issues to work out with his father. He also has the novel he's working on. Aomame wants to right the wrongs brought again women by men. She's found her calling, by taking work from the Dowager.
But that parallel world is there, lurking under the surface. It's most obvious sign comes in the form of a sky with two moons. As Tengo and Aomame struggle through their issues, they are drawn farther and farther into 1Q84, until there is nothing left but to either fight back or find a way to escape.
While a dedicated reader could read the book in a month, I preferred reading it slowly. I read two chapters a week (give or take) — one of Aomame's and one of Tengo's. Later in the third, I would read three chapters as a go.