1Q84: The Problem with the Moon

I’m just about done the first book, but a sticky translation issue has caught my eye and I can’t stop wondering how Jay Rubin will resolve it. I think I’ll end up reading the English translation of this monster just to see how he handles this one issue. Because to me, it is so sneakily difficult and no matter how much I noodle around with it, I can’t come up with anything that allows the same ambiguity as the original Japanese.

This issue includes some minor-ish spoilers (characters, ambiguous plot), so if you’re like me and prefer to know as little as possible about a book you want to read before you read it, you should skip out on this trip with my brain now. There are many other idle entertainments on these intertubes that will keep you just as busy. (more…)

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Saint Oniisan en français

French speakers, get thee to the bookstore!

Maybe this means these books will show up in English one day? Although French publishers have always taken more chances with Japanese translations, so maybe it just means that they’re more daring yet again. In any case, the little message from the artist Nakamura for her new French audience is really charming.

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1Q84 in English

The cover for the English edition of the neverending run-on sentence by Haruki Murakami, also known as 1Q84, was unveiled the other day. Fits right in with the Murakami-in-English look. And of course, it’s much lovelier than the Japanese covers. Book design just does not seem to be an art thing in Japan the way it is here. Or I just don’t appreciate the aesthetic in Japan. One of the two.

Kamimura Kikaku: David Karashima

神村企画The second narrative in 1Q84 by Murakami got me thinking about Kamimura Kikaku: The Making of the Next Kamimura by David Karashima. I admit to having some bias about this book since David himself put the book in my hands, after reading the first part of my own novel and telling me that I had real talent. These kinds of things tend to cloud a person’s judgement.

But still, I think I am not wandering away in everything’s great town. I did like the book– the story is pretty amazing and it develops plausibly and naturally. And there’s a freshness to the way Karashima uses words. I love his speeches, the way characters actually talk to each other. Maybe because he is bilingual, there is an underlying sense of sarcasm in a lot of the things his characters say that you don’t usually see in Japanese writing. (Or maybe I just don’t get that in Japanese writing?) And his sentence structure loves me the way Murakami’s does. I whizzed through this book.

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Saint Oniisan: Hikaru Nakamura

Before my brain dissects the book, can it remind you that things are pretty terrible in northern Japan right now? Maybe you heard about that? People in evacuation centres are actually freezing to death in places because desperately needed aid just isn’t making it to them, thanks to the near-total collapse of infrastructure. And as freelance interpreter Hiroko Nakamura has pointed out repeatedly, if the media insists on going up there to report on events/fan hysterical flames, the least they could do is bring a few cases of water and some much-needed supplies for the people they are turning their cameras on. So you know, if you have some time or money or both, here are some ways you can help.

And now let’s think about comics! Because my brain needs to not be sad for at least five minutes a day. And because it also needs a break from the verbosity of 1Q84.

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1Q84: Haruki Murakami (Part 3)

Let me distract you from the terrible news that just keeps coming out of Japan with the Murakami death slog! Three hundred pages! Well, it’s actually three hundred and twenty-one. I haven’t had time to write since I reached three hundred, but I’ve kept reading, so here we are.

And what are my impressions at this critical milestone? Did you guess “needs editing”? Because really, there is nothing else to guess. Yes, again, I found myself frustrated with the unending wordiness of the whole adventure. I am so tired of descriptions of people’s clothing in such minute detail. And I found myself getting angry at some points. It’s starting to feel like Murakami doesn’t trust his readers. Like he doesn’t believe we are intelligent or capable enough to fill in the blanks and create the fictive world he wants us to. He is constantly reminding the reader of things.

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