Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Janet Maslin's review of Haruki Murakami's 1Q84 is shit, Also why Ross needs to STFU

In her NYT review of 1Q84 Janet Maslin claims"'1Q84' has even his most ardent fans doing back flips as they try to justify this book’s glaring troubles." despite the fact that this statement is plain untrue, I found the glaring troubles in her book review with nominal effort. Her review consistently criticizes 1Q84 for things that are arguably tenants of postmodern literature while never actually giving reasons as to why they are unsuccessful. The first claim Maslin levels against 1Q84 Is that the book itself is too long, or rather, the book is unrewarding. Despite the fact that the mere notion of books following some length/reward formula is childish especially when discussing Postmodernism. This same claim could be made against most novels written in the postmodern tradition, in The Erasers, Alain Robbe-Grillet one of the pioneers of postmodernist literature, famously described a tomato wedge in a salad in copious scientific detail. The mere fact that a novel is long or a novel contains filler has not been a valid argument against a work since James Joyce wrote Ulysses.
Maslin's second claim, written as a one sided conversation with herself in which she presumably lays the smackdown on all those ardent Murakami defenders (I don't think I need to point out how this could be construed as a little bias), rails against the novels title 1Q84 and whether or not its a play on George Orwell's 1984 (just as Murakami's earlier novel Norwegian Wood was a play on the Beatle's song). She then asks the defenders whether or not the presence of two moons and a reference to Sonny and Cher constitute the novels classification as science fiction. Not only would I dismiss such claims because they are wholly irrelevant. Maslin yet again foolishly misclassifies the appearance of another tenant of postmodernism as half-assed science fiction (Why she cites Sonny and Cher as evidence of this I have no idea). Postmodernism as an artistic movement is largely based in the juxtaposition of highbrow and lowbrow imagery. Maslin cites both the highbrow twin moons (presumably largely symbolic) and the lowbrow Sonny and Cher (ROSS NOTE: Gravity's Rainbow is critically acclaimed for Pynchon's use of similar juxtapositions). The presence of these two elements really only lend more evidence to the novels classification as another work of postmodernist literature while never actually giving any indication of the books quality.
The rest of Maslin's review is largely a summation of the novel punctuated with words like "Ploys," "Unseemly," "Unconvincing," to create the illusion of an unsuccessful novel while remaining firmly grounded in unsubstantiated subjectivism, until she cites an awkward erotic fragment without any context and then uses that as evidence as to why the book makes no sense. In her conclusion Maslin once again steamrolls over any inkling of postmodernist storytelling by openly criticizing the novels ending for not tying up all loose ends and being way more vague than the ending of the Steve Jobs biography.
I cannot vouch for the quality of 1Q84 because I have not yet read it but as an intelligent and critical reader, I would never say that a review as poor as this one, clearly written by a person who has no grasp on postmodernist literature, encapsulates why Murakami on the whole is overrated especially when I would profess myself as someone who enjoys the works of Thomas Pynchon and Don Dellilo, two authors whose novels are guilty of all the misguided criticisms made against 1Q84.
Janet Maslin is clearly unqualified as a reviewer of postmodern literature. Her review makes it apparent she is neither capable of understanding nor appreciating the movement and when she can find no shortcomings within a novels content she has no problem fabricating them from elements of the artistic movement itself. Ross Barkan is a pedantic dope who sees any permeation of literature into the popular consciousness as a negative thing because he likes the unwarranted feeling of superiority he gets from telling people he's read Gravity's Rainbow. That is how he let a terrible review like this one paint a grossly misshapen picture of perhaps the greatest living asian novelist.


dan said...

this is pure BS on your part..the onlyu good thing Haruki ever
wrote is NORWEI NO MORi. wake up....danny in Taiwan

Tufts 1971

dan said...

Danny BloomI love Norwegian Wood and it is the only HM book I liked. I read it ten times in Tokyo in English.
I know how he got so big, as i spoke with his editors and publishers at Kdansha. It was all
a marketing PR crusade in the West, they purposely DID NOT translate or issue Norway in the USA or Europe until after rolling out his other FABLE books and New Yorker stories, it was pure hype and marketing and THEY succeeded. Bu the only book he will be remembered for is Norwegain Wood.

disagree? duke it out at danbloom AT gmail DOT com, i am in asia since 1991

dan said...

the only book worth reading by Murakami is NORWEGIAN WOOD. Read that book and you will understand why. End of a story. Case closed. But do read it before you flame me. His entire "career" after that book was staged managed by marketing execs in cahoots with bottom line spread sheets. And they purposefully kept Norwegian Wood out of the limelight and the market in the USA in order to create the "persona" to sell these other books. Read NW and you will understand that all the rest is mere hype.
MrDanbloom 21 小時以前

dan said...

But....yes, the cover design is startling and wow....but the text is juvenile mind stuff: the cover? Not just an ordinary cover. The amazing design extends inside the book as well.

borboski said...

Goodness, the way you describe "post-modernism" made me cringe! If something can be described as "post-modern" is that all that matters?

"This novel feels too long. It contains details that either uninteresting, or plot elements that are irelevant. I'm disappointed that plot elements that are introduced are never resolved."

"This is YOUR problem because YOU do not understand post-modernism."


The review itself is a light piece, obviously so, and given you haven't READ the book I don't know why you would react so badly to it.

I think 1Q84 was quite cleverly marketed, I regret buying both parts and after plodding through parts 1 & 2 I'm personally not going to bother with part 3. It's a pretty crappy book. It's not entertaining, it's not moving, it doesn't have anything interesting to say about the world... it's hard to see what the point of it is.

Ahhh.... but it's POST-MODERN....

dan said...

so true I think 1Q84 was quite cleverly marketed, I regret buying both parts and after plodding through parts 1 & 2 I'm personally not going to bother with part 3. It's a pretty crappy book. It's not entertaining, it's not moving, it doesn't have anything interesting to say about the world... it's hard to see what the point of it is.

smolzebra said...

So it's a good book, it just seems bad to people who "don't understand postmodernism." If a book isn't entertaining or satisfying to read and has no discernible point to it, what makes it good? The fact that it's long and unintelligible and had a very expensive marketing campaign behind it?