Friday, October 31, 2014

Classic Literature and Breasts: Thoughts on 1Q84

1Q84 (1Q84, #1-3)

Warning: Potential spoilers for things in the first four chapters.

I'm feeling really frustrated right now.  I'm currently reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, and while I was totally expecting to love it, the more I'm reflecting on the book (I'm only 45 pages in!) the more I'm uncertain whether I want to try and finish or not.  I actually am finding the plot pretty intriguing, but I've got a lot of niggling feelings that everything the book is hinting at, is going to happen.

I'm four chapters in, and breasts have been discussed at length SEVEN times already.  Guys, that's averaging a couple paragraphs about breasts every few pages.  That's twice as many breasts as characters.  That's more breasts than character development or plot.   20% of what I have read so far is breasts.  I feel like I have this problem any time I read "literary" books.  It's like to be taken seriously, books have to fantasize women.  I don't have a problem with sexy times, but I like there to be a purpose to it.  I understand that part of adult fiction is bringing in more sex, which makes sense as it's a big part of culture for better or worse.  What doesn't make sense is jamming in seemingly random scenes or focus on parts of the body with no point in furthering plot or character development.  I don't want to be reading about a character walking down a flight of steps and then suddenly boom three page long lesbian fantasy scene!  (But of course the character isn't a lesbian or bi, she just has copious amounts of lady sex.)  What does that have to do with anything?  If that information is important, it could be summed up very quickly, or perhaps less graphically.  It's jarring to suddenly feel like I'm in the middle of a literotica when just a paragraph earlier, it was about a character walking down the stairs.  And I still wouldn't bother me if it felt real and not like something someone wishes were real.  Maybe that's why I prefer my YA sex scenes - they're not romantic or mysterious or just clear male fantasy.  They're honest.  They're awkward and fun, and if there's a focus on breasts outside of sex, it's usually funny or pertinent to the character/plot.   Not an ode to women's breasts that goes on and on comparing their different shapes and sizes or imagining what their nipple color is.

I don't know why I am so frustrated by this, because even to myself I sound a bit like a crazy person.  It's hard to really articulate why it bothers me so much, and what about it feels so clearly like a male fantasy vs any other book I've read with sex in it, regardless of the audience type. Maybe I'm feeling jarred as YA authors are primarily female, so I'm not sure when the last time I read a book by a male author was. (Edit: Not that long ago. I've read at least two books authored by a man in the past month, and they were both very fun) And it's not that I'm bothered by there being sex scenes - a couple weeks ago I read entirely romance novels for pete's sake!

Some of it comes from the fact that the book is starting with an older male character (30) ogling a 17 year old female character, and an even older man who has pictures of her (we don't know how he got them).  This is quickly feeling like it's going to get really icky.  I also don't have any patience for authors dismissing people as "not lesbian or bi" - when they have actual relationships with both genders.  According to reviews, the female character has relationships with older men AND women (once again, super hot young girl into older men - creep factor), and there continues to be random, pornographic sections that add nothing to the plot or character development.  And there appears to be large portions of the book about the characters doing nothing at all.  This is not sounding promising to me.

On the one hand, I usually finish books.  It's what I do.  And I feel like for me to be able to legitimately criticize the books out of my own opinions and not reciting others opinions, I have to finish the book.  But on the other hand, when I read reviews that confirm all my worries I've formed in the first 45 pages of the book, it seems clear I'm going to hate this...and it's almost 950 pages.  I'm not sure if I'm going to finish it, but as of this moment I'm feeling very angry and contrary, which almost certainly won't lead to any good reading of anything else.  So we'll see. I might finish this book out of sheer perverseness.


  1. It's 950 pages long? And at 45 pages in you're feeling this way...if it were me I'd probably give up on it. I have this thing where I'm trying to DNF books I don't enjoy within the first 50 to 100 pages, because why waste my precious time on them? Hmmm. On the other hand, I also feel obligated to finish books so I break my own rule a lot hehe but 950 pages?! That's a lot of reading.

    The content of the book sounds like it's something that would make me feel uncomfortable if I was to read it (obviously, I have not read it). And I think you're right about sex scenes in novels. In YA they are much more enjoyable, in romance novels they're occasionally eyeroll inducing because of the repetitiveness but I find in 'serious' literature they are bizarre, especially when they seem to come out of nowhere (which they seem to, is that a srs bsns book thing?!) Now I'm curious, this might call for a book reading experiment.

  2. kirstymariejonesstudioreadsNovember 3, 2014 at 11:27 AM

    Oh god, haha! Sorry, but seven times and in length? I couldn't cope. I mean, come on.
    But see, that's my main issue when it comes to Adult reads (which, admittedly, I don't read a lot of), I don't mind sex scenes, but when there's more sex scenes than actual story and character development and blah bah blah I'm bored. If I wanted to read more sex than anything else I'd read 50 Shades (yeah, I went there. My Aunt and cousins have read it and are trying to get me to read it and I'm a) grossed out about that and b) RUNNING AWAY. Seriously though, almost 950 pages? And that's just like a little chunk of it so far, hahaha...*Nervous laughter* Good luck if you do finish it.

  3. Yeah I'm in the same boat you are! I just found out that one of my irl friends is reading it, so he made me commit to not making him go through this book alone lol.

    Yes!! That's it exactly! I actually couldn't think of any examples of the top of my head, since it's probably been years since I've read a "serious" book, which frustrated me a bit, but it's something I'm definitely going to take note of in the future so I can prove this is a thing haha

  4. I knowww...I'm in about 100 pages now, and there have already been two more detailed sex scenes (and they're particularly pervy urrtgghhhh). I ended up being corralled into finishing the book, and I guess I'm curious about it a bit to? So we'll see. It is a LOT to read if you don't like it lol. Btw - read the first three pages of 50 Shades, and it's just abysmal writing. Seriously awful. One of the few books I will allow myself to criticize without having read all the way through! (Also leather just doesn't seem that comfortable to be honest. You stick to it.)


Thanks for leaving a comment! You've totally made my day :D

I love talking to you guys, so I always respond to comments. Be sure to check back!