A Love Letter for the Epoch: Review

A Love Letter for the EpochA Love Letter for the Epoch by Michael Wentworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is an abundance of emotion packed into this slim volume – 70 pages of anger, longing, sadness, fire, and introspection spilling out in poetry and prose. There are some rough edges, but I think the raw power of the poetry would be hurt if it were too much polished. The reader gets meaningful insights into South African life, both its history and ongoing struggles, as well as into the poet himself – and these are all intertwined, as he skillfully displays. According to the introduction, this was Wentworth’s debut book of poetry – I hope he continues.

(Thanks to my friend Dawn Jorgensen for the gift of this book.)

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1Q84: Review

1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3)1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There is a point, about 3/4′s of the way through 1Q84, where two of the characters are discussing Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. The one who is reading summarizes her feelings about the experience of reading with, “It feels like I’m experiencing someone else’s dream.” This is an apt description for 1Q84 as well. This dream, shared by multiple characters, lets us in slowly, playing out strands of narrative that only coalesce into clarity as time passes — much like the Air Chrysalises described in the story, which are created by weaving strands of material out of thin air.

On its surface, the book describes a simple fantasy story. But Murakami, using what I can only describe as Jedi powers, turns a folktale into a rich, modern tapestry. He does it deliberately, at a slow pace. Chapters will go by where many things happen, but the characters move only slightly. Conversely, time can speed by with no chance for action.

That relationship with time in all its forms is at the heart of this book, where 20 years can disappear in an instant, and an instant can last an eternity.

I am going to re-read this at some point in the future, but I think I’ll do it after reading Proust, 1984, and other works mentioned in passing, as I would love to have those in mind while experiencing the story once again.

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