Thursday, November 17, 2011

1Q66 and All That

Charles Baxter reviews Murakami's 1Q84 (NYRB):
the locale also includes two moons, miniature angels or demons (it is hard to tell which they are) referred to as “Little People,” ghosts knocking on the door demanding payment, insemination-by-proxy, and air chrysalises: cocoons created by the Little People in which pod-like human replicas, referred to as dohta, are hatched. 1Q84 is a marathon novel. (Murakami himself is a marathon runner and has said that “most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day.”)
But the Little People are "absolutely mystifying. It is as if the Seven Dwarfs had gradually made their presence known and their powers understood in a novel by James T. Farrell." I'm not sure I want to read this novel. (I've read very little Murakami, but have a vaguely favorable impression of what I've read -- read 2.2 novels in succession in 2009, then forgot my copy of Norwegian Wood between the sheets in a hotel room in Vannes, and never returned to his work.)

In other news, the Lethem-Wood plot has thickened, with James Wood responding to comments at the Millions -- I recommend Ctrl-F -- disconcertingly, Wood refers to himself in the third person and then seems surprised when other commenters refer to him as "'James Wood'". (Back-story: Lethem recently wrote a content-free whinge at the LARB (naturally) about a supposedly dishonest/elitist review by Wood ca. 2003; this got more coverage than it deserved because everyone likes to bait Wood.) I haven't read the comments, there are too many of them, but I am indebted to the (as-of-now) very last one, by "Edmond Caldwell," for a phrase -- revanchist domestication -- that accurately if uncharitably describes my approach to the more experimental stuff I like.

(Re post title see here.)

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