on 1Q84

I picked up 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami over a year ago at the suggestion of one of my followers. I started strong, a bit underwhelmed, critical and disappointed in the style and narrative choices. When I reached the chapter where Anoname is going to kill the Leader, I put the book down, disappointed in the direction it was taking.

Eight months later, my son gave me a copy of the novel, having finished it himself. I don’t read paper books anymore but having it on my shelf tempted me to give the remainder a shot. The first few pages of my return proved I had been completely wrong about the direction and my interest was rekindled.

Today I finished the novel. Every criticism I had has been forgiven. 1Q84 is a masterpiece. I love the structure and style and poetics. I applaud the beauty and the quirky negative space. My opinion of Murakami is transformed. What a great writer.



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for me

Silver was a dancer, a ballet and jazz and tap dancer. I say “was” because she doesn’t dance professionally any more but she is a dancer; she still dances.

I like dancers. I’m attracted to artists but particularly to dancers. Dance is the polar opposite of writing.

I have never danced but obviously I have danced, rather well perhaps, for someone without a lick of training. But I am not a dancer by any stretch of the imagination. I am an admirer.

I have seen, been to, watched a wide array of dances. None have ever made me cry.

Silver has danced with me but mostly she dances for me.




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“I thought you were going to party with them, Myra and Ted.”
“We did, last night.”
“Didn’t go well?”
“You could say that. We met for dinner and they came over to our place for a nightcap.”
“We went for a swim but Myra doesn’t swim. Or hot tub. She’s doesn’t like to get her hair wet, she said.”
“Okay, that’s weird.”
“Oh, yeah, she’s weird. So the rest of us dried off and went back inside. Myra and I started getting naked and Diana and Ted went into the bedroom.”
“Seemed cool, but just as we started to get nasty, Diana came running out of the bedroom in tears.”
“What happened?”
“That’s what I said. She’s crying and hugging me and blurts out that she can’t do it, she can’t screw Ted.”
“She said he looks too much like her father.”
“No shit?”
“The funny thing is, he does. Short, stocky, balding.”
“So they’re mad, she’s bawling and I’m standing there with my dick out.”
“And we were supposed to come with them tonight.”
“Where is Diana?”
“Flirting with the DJ, last I saw her.”
“Isn’t he good friends with Myrna?”
“It’s going to be a weird night.”

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“Over there.”
“The short redhead in the really short skirt.”

I scanned the dancing crowd, sorting out individuals from the throbbing mass of half-dressed swingers. Flashing colored lights and the motion of the crowd made it nearly impossible to find an individual, much less hold them in sight long enough to identify them. Then I saw her, the pudendal bulge of her white cotton pants peeking out from beneath a hem too high to be called clothing in ordinary circumstances.

“Oh. Her?”
“Yeah, that one. She keeps looking over here.”
“Who’s she with?”
“I don’t know.”

“All right,” shouted the DJ in fierce amplified tones. “Now it’s time for a ladies dance. Let’s clear the men away and get the juicy funk juices flowing.”

My wife jumped off her bar stool and headed onto the crowded half-dressed floor. A thumping beat took hold of the vast mass of flesh and began a feminine pulsation of exploration and exhibition. I took a long pull of my vodka drink, smacked the glass down awkwardly, picked up the bottle and poured another. The redhead joined my wife in delightful rhythms, rising and falling, pushing and pulling, twisting and turning, lost in her eyes. A small man joined me with a nod.

“I guess our wives are hitting it off.”
“Looks that way.”
“She has a boyfriend.”

The song began to transform steadily into another, similar song and the DJ released the dance floor from it’s proscription, leading masses of men back onto the floor as some of the women began to flow away. The redhead headed toward the DJ and mounted the four foot high speaker that flanked him on the right. Her white panties glowed and shimmered beneath her pseudo-skirt as her hips gyrated hypnotically. Eyes closed, or so it seems, she lost herself in the beat.

“We’re taking off soon.”
“So are we.”
“As soon as she finishes dancing.”
“She looks great.”

She joined us momentarily, long enough to say “hello” and “goodbye.” We wound our way through a sexualized crowd, breasts and cocks and kisses and thrusts. The night air burned hot, the darkness giving no relief on a late Dallas night. The valet brought their car and we watched them drive away.

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I first met my wife, Silver, sixteen years ago at a swinger party. The first time I saw her, she was dancing with my wife. When that dance ended, she moved onto the speakers flanking the DJ, wearing a too-short skirt and white panties. One of the guys offered a dollar and got a sneer in response.

Her husband told us about her boyfriend while she danced. I thought, what a bad-ass bitch and proceeded to forget about her.

After the party, we met them at the curb, waiting for the valet. We asked if they were headed for the next party and were told that they had to go home to let the dogs out.

A few weeks later, she was all but forgotten when we went to another swinger party. I remembered her again and we danced together. Silver took ahold of my hand and guided my fingers past her panties and into her wet cunt. We danced for the rest of the night.

We met the couple for dinner and they talked about their dogs the way people with kids talk about their kids. They followed us home and I showed them some of the porn I had made. We ended up in the hot tub. Things soon got steamy.

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I used to play tennis five times a week. My last wife is and was a serious tennis player, competing at national levels. I don’t like to play the game; I’m not a competitive person. I just like to hit balls. Tennis pros have told me I have excellent eye-hand coordination and footwork. Workouts were a serious part of my life.

I’ve watched tennis religiously since Bjorn Borg played John McEnroe. I’ve been to many celebrity games. I wore tennis clothes. I have a really nice racket.

But a bad divorce turned me off the sport. I’ve turned my back on it entirely. My wife doesn’t play and is even less competitive than I am. I’m no longer a member of the country club nor is there a nearby public court. My racket hasn’t been out of its cover in more than a decade.

I miss tennis but the associations are too strong, too painful to go back.

So I’m taking up dancing.



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I routinely read several books at once, usually between four and eight at a time. There are a variety of reasons for doing this, like fitting stories to my momentary moods, cleansing the palette, maintaining distance. But the main reason I have for mixing up my literary diet is dread. I don’t like the direction a story-line seems to be taking and so I put the book down until I’ve forgotten the situation enough to quell my emotions.

I don’t appreciate strong emotions, those caused by aggression, violence, suspense, torment, cruelty. I try to choose stories that have none of that but, to be real, that would leave me a handful of tone poems and vignettes about lost love. I do appreciate story and so I tolerate some measure of conflict. And I’ll abandon a book if it strays too far into the thriller, horror or pained directions. When I have reasons to finish a book that comes across too harshly, I ease my pains by putting the book down for a day, a week, a month, a year, for however long it takes to forget what concerned me.

What is very curious is that often times, the author has anticipated my angst and changes direction with the very next page. So I neglect a book for an extended period when one more page would have alleviated all my fears. I both applaud and chastise authors for these twists of vector. Mostly I curse them and myself. Stop toying with me. Stop letting people toy with me.

I am too sensitive. I know that all too well, but I enjoy being too sensitive. I don’t want to be hardened, to miss the subtle emotions of living an ordinary existence. So as annoying as my dread is, I won’t let go of it. I have learned to cope and that’s enough.

The hardest part, however, is that this sense of dread infects my ordinary non-literary life. I miss out on so much by anticipating strong emotions that may or may not happen. And usually don’t.

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