What I’m Reading #7: The end of Vellum and starting 1Q84 (finally…), and figuring out when it’s the right time to read poetry. (January, 2012)

Hello again my dutiful readers!


Time for an update with what I’m reading, again. 


I finished reading Vellum yesterday. The ending makes the book. It really does. It’s like a big puzzle, and you’ve lost the lid so you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like. Then, when you’ve been slaving for hours, you flip a piece over and realize someone has gone and numbered them. Vellum gives you the pieces, but you can’t figure it out because you don’t know how it’s supposed to look. In the final chapter- in fact, the second last page- everything is tied up in the space of only a few sentences! Only then do you realize what it all meant, how it fits together. Even though I had my doubts about it at first, I persevered with it and it paid off. The sequel, Ink, will definitely be worth a read now. I want to see what happens next!


One thing I would say, however, is that it’s not a book you should read if you are confused easily. I got quite lost in it and was thankful that Duncan tied it all up in the end.


As for 1Q84, it’s definitely shaping up to be an interesting work. It’s three books crammed into one. I’m about four chapters into the first, and so far it looks like the entire work is about two parallel worlds, one of which is inhabited by a female assassin and another is inhabited by an editor who works for a publishing company as far as I can tell. Murukami follows the lives of these two characters and we begin to discover that not everything is the way it seems in these two worlds. He makes it obvious by pointing out the discrepancies between the memories of the character and the real world, even having a cab driver point it out to the assassin. I’m curious to see how exactly these two main characters are going to progress, along with some of the sub-characters such as the mysterious author of a competition story which the editor is working on as a rewrite. 


The translation itself is quite good, with few errors in the wording and a marvellous sense of what Murukami is attempting to convey. The writing is poignant, and almost picks you up and takes you along with it. I get the feeling Murukami might head into the realm of the psychodynamic, in terms of literary criticism, with more Freudian elements than Lacanian. His sense of place, of features of the characters is remarkable- he leaves almost nothing up to the imagination, but the details he describes are vivid and stick in your mind. You can almost feel the atmosphere of the places he describes, the wind in your hair as you watch the scene below, the music and the sound of the cars, the world around you seems to disappear and be replaced by the world of 1Q84. I look forward to seeing what comes next.



In other news, my book collection is becoming quite diverse now. I purchased Homer’s Iliad and Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained just recently, both of which are more personal vendettas of mine. The first time I picked up The Iliad I was in grade Eight. I got about thirty pages in and decided it was too heavy in terms of content for me. I think that’s probably the first time I figured out that no matter how skilled you are with the English language- or any language, for that matter- there are just some books that you need to be at a certain age to read and understand. I think now’s the time for me to tackle The Iliad again. As for Milton’s works, I’ve wanted to read those for quite some time now so it’s a huge relief to finally have them to browse through as I please. 


That’s all for this time, and if anyone has any comments on any post I put up here please feel free to contribute.


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