Tag Archives: 1Q84

Does Size Matter?

Guys, I completed one of my 2015 Reading Resolutions just in time to start thinking about 2016’s … but I’m getting ahead of myself.

I finally finished Stephen King’s It. I feel a new kind of emptiness inside and my right eyelid has been twitching for the past couple of days (and I thought Chuck Palahniuk wrote some twisted stuff). That old terror of reality is coming to get me, more frightening than any supernatural evil, but I did finish.

I decided to give myself the entire month of October to read It because it’s huge and because I’d finish on Halloween. Spooooooky! I have to say it’s one of the most complete novels I’ve ever read. Some of the book’s detractors may say that there’s too much detail about the history of a fictional town, but it made the whole experience feel more real. I wanted to go on adventures with the kids in the book and I wanted to be with them when they finally faced off with It, which I can only describe as mind-bendingly far out. The made-for-television adaptation is really like a trailer for the book. There’s only so much of the novel that could conceivably be crammed into just over three hours. Some of the novel—like the showdowns with It—are so unfathomably conceptual that they might be unfilmable. Such scenes are better existing only in your mind, if your mind can handle them.

itcoverIt consumed me and took over my subconscious for a several days. I had nightmares about my friends dying pretty regularly while I read it, but on the night I finished it, my dreams were beatific. I didn’t remember specifics upon waking, but I felt at peace.

The novel is a big hulking thing, more weapon than book, that sat on my bookshelf in three different apartments over five years, a towering 1138-page monolith. I felt a new kind of accomplishment when I turned the final page, and finishing it endowed me with the confidence that I could start and—more importantly—finish other long books.

(Please note: When I talk about length, I’m talking about number of pages, not number of words, even though number of words is more accurate.)

For years I’ve been putting off reading some long books, like Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. For some reason I thought it was around 1000 pages, but it’s a paltry 639. Ernest Hemingway‘s For Whom the Bell Tolls and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden are practically novellas at barely 500 and 600 pages, respectively. And Moby-Dick? Herman Melville’s classic allegorical tale, which I always thought was much longer (like Kavalier & Clay), comes in at 625. Haruki Murakami‘s 1Q84? That’s closer to It at 925. What about Gone with the Wind? Margaret Mitchell gets even closer at 1037 pages. War and Peace? Tolstoy’s tome tips the scales at a whopping 1386 pages.

Some of these look downright scrawny next to It.

20151027_130831

That sweet, sweet thickness.

It isn’t even King’s longest novel; The Stand holds that honor at 1153 pages.

There are, of course, plenty of articles and listicles about the longest novels, some of which are in our catalog, like:  Joseph and His Brothers (1207 pages), Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady (1533) or The Man Without Qualities (1774).

But does size really matter? I’ve read long books that were awful, like the 756-page Breaking Dawn (don’t judge—I was in college, trying to impress a girl) right along with short books that were awful (like The Train from Pittsburgh). Likewise, I’ve read short books that were fantastic (like the 295-page Me and Earl and the Dying Girl). Regardless, it’s undeniable that with more words—and more pages—authors have more room to create a more detailed world into which you can escape.

I doubt anyone would bemoan a well-crafted escape.

What’s the longest book you’ve ever read, dear readers? Do you have any recommendations on what I should read next to decompress after It? Sound off in the comments below!

–Ross

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Just Because You’re Paranoid…

1984

I read a news article on Tuesday, 6/11, about how sales of George Orwell’s book, 1984 have skyrocketed in the wake of the NSA surveillance scandal.

1Q84

I just so happen to be reading the novel 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami; translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel. On this very same Tuesday, I come to a passage in the novel with a synopsis of 1984. Coincidence?

I am finding 1Q84 to be a dense fantasy, full of unexpected, surreal twists that keep me reading. As the protagonists are narrating, I hear distinctly Japanese voices in my head.

infernoI also happen to be reading Inferno by Dan Brown as an eBook on my iPhone. Another book about a well-known book! I didn’t do this on purpose! The only reason I chose this one is that it came up first on the eBook browsing list, and I liked The Da Vinci Code well enough. I am kind of enjoying it, even with unwieldy and inelegant sentence structures which say the same thing in the same exact way over and over again. I feel like the author has underestimated the intelligence of the readers and please, we have all heard about Dante’s Inferno before. As I have been trying to get past these shortcomings, the plot continues to hold the promise of being engaging, except for the desperate and overt way it has been beating suspense over my head.

Inferno

I also liked the film, The Da Vinci Code, well enough, mainly because I love Tom Hanks. Oddly, the third book that I am in the middle of, Cloud Atlas, has also been made into a movie starring Tom Hanks. I don’t think I spoiled the book for myself by checking the movie out from our new “DVD bestseller” area yesterday. The reason I chose this one was that it was there, randomly, on a shelf where new and popular DVDs are either in or not. It was well acted and very thought provoking, though it was a tad long and the makeup jobs were awful. Where is CGI when you need it?

illuminatus

When I see coincidences everywhere, I immediately think about The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson. This fnord “fiction” book will make you feel like you want to take another look at what you thought was the truth. And it kicks Dan Brown’s butt.

Did I somehow subconsciously choose books whose running themes are about other books?  Part of the plot of 1Q84 (so far) is about an author who helps to write a popular book, and I am a little surprised by the amount of references to western music, art and literature. The running theme of Cloud Atlas is how different authors of pieces of work, like a diary or a piece of music, will directly affect the consumer of that material in a subsequent generation. Dan Brown’s Inferno incorporates many old masterworks as plot devices.

Is it a coincidence that each book and its predecessor have a looming, all seeing presence?

Is Big Brother (and/or the NSA) really watching me?

-Joelle

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