I’ve long been fascinated by all facets of modern Japanese culture. It’s a place I’ve dreamed of visiting for many years and remains a top fantasy travel destination. Maybe that explains why I returned to the work of the country’s most renowned novelist Haruki Murkami for the third and final time. There is no shortage of critical praise for Murakami’s work and on the surface it seems like something I would like. However my experiences with his books always seem to follow a similar pattern, in the beginning I’m drawn in by his clean, functional writing and unique, well-drawn characters but somwhere along the line he introduces imaginary beings or situations and this is where the problems start for me. I was actually enjoying the stories of Aomame the self-defense instructor and secret assasin as well as Tengo the math teacher and ghost-writer for a popular novel but then there came the two moons and the Little People (a character construct so ridiculous I won’t even go into detail). Even when I convinced myself to look past these fantasy elements I just couldn’t find any excuse for Murakami’s deliberately slow pace and incessant repitition of basic facts so around page 600 of nearly 900 I gave up. It’s somewhat rare that I put a book down, especially one so well thought of (1Q84 was on many prominent year-end lists at bookstores and news outlets I respect), but I simply couldn’t justify spending any more time on a story I no longer cared about. This speaks to my personal preferences in fiction as much as to the book itself, as the further you get away from reality the less I care, but it’s safe to say I won’t be picking up another Murakami book in this lifetime.