1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
I probably should not have picked up this particular book for my first venture into Murakami's work, but I was still thoroughly impressed. He is clearly an adept and beautiful writer, and I will definitely be reading some of his other fiction. This 925-page tome is, basically, a fairy tale. There is the hero and the heroine, who are fated to be together and feel that subconsciously. There is the supernatural force, not necessarily evil, but certainly destructive in its own way. It just seems unnecessary for the book to have been this long. Proust features prominently in the latter part of the story, and there are certainly echoes of Proustian attention, nay, obsession with detail: we read about how many glasses of water the character drinks, what they eat for every meal, the quotidian minutiae of their days. My guess is this was all very deliberate, but it gets boring after a while, as do the main characters' inner ramblings. They are repetitious and unfocused, particularly towards the end. I read the first three-quarters quite quickly (as I said, the writing is beautiful and the story unique), but the last bit was difficult to get through. "Finish, already!" I found myself mentally yelling at Murakami. My feeling is that at this point, having so many successful, critically acclaimed, bestselling novels, editors are loathe to change too much of Murakami's writing. But in this case, a firm editing hand would have done greater justice to the work. Novels don't need to be short, but nearly a thousand pages is a bit much.