Seminal they say? I wouldn’t completely agree. However, this story is so neatly packaged and tied up with a perfectly straight and shiny bow as only Haruki Murakami could design that it feels utterly complete. This long and meandering story is decidedly un-put-downable and completely pops question marks like flashbulbs going off in the inky black of your brain as you rapidly blink your eyes while turning to the next page and contemplate, “What happens next?!” Surreal, yes, as only Murakami can tell a surreal tale. But if you’ve been an avid Murakami reader, you expect the surreality and this doesn’t hit you as strongly as the creatures in Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World or the imagery of the back alley, the well and the sky in The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Certainly, it’s down the rabid rabbit hole again where wonder and disbelief await, but this story falls into place so perfectly, without as much as a missing piece of the jig-saw puzzle. By the end of the tale, all my questions have been answered and we have perfectly moved out of the 1Q84 world and back into 1984 and I’m wondering why. Murakami has always had the ability to leave me hanging and screeching at the last sentence of the book, the flashbulbs of my mind going off rapid fire without end; I can never find closure with his endings. But this, this world of 1Q84 ends like a sublime dinner with a dessert cart to pick from or a coffee and cigarette or even a beautiful cheese tray that perfectly balances the sweet and savory flavors of the evening. So yes, perhaps Murakami still has me asking “why?” at the very end, but this “why” is less unsettling than any other story of his; I can put this book down and walk away with sure-footed steps and easily pick up the next book without the filaments in my brain going haywire. Is it possible that I’ve finally understood a Murakami story a little bit more than I used to, or that love stories ultimately fall into convention?