Shinkitschi Takamiki sighed. With a deft bicep-curl, he brought Haruki Murakami’s cement block IQ84 up near eye level. The eyes peering back at him from between the face-cage title graphics signalled ... what? Pique? Exotic ennui? Static lust? Or a clandestine plea for help from the forthcoming rigours of narrative boredom for which she’d be put through the paces like a ballerina in a mud-wrestling pit?
The cab driver turned around, which wasn’t as dangerous as navigating through an ersatz and humdrum parallel universe. The traffic, after all, had stopped, the breathless grills of U.S. auto imports stalled and silent across eighteen lanes of bumper-kissing gridlock. Shinkitschi put down the novel, straining a trapezoid in the process, and stared back into the cabbie’s depthless and profoundly mysterious sockets, which, in Kitschi’s dream world, followed him to the four corners of the story like a rent collector booking 3 to 1 that his tenant wouldn’t skip to the elevator before the soul of his heart quaked in bitter congress.
“What’s the music, hack-san?” from Kitschi.
“ ‘Alligator Boogaloo’, by Lou Donaldson.”
“You know, ever since I purchased this novel at the bus terminal, I’ve been besieged by international cultural references in those I’ve met. But before this IQ84 world, no one cared of anything outside of the Tokyo office-subway-homefront.”
“Would you like me to switch the station?”
“Ah! God, please, anything but. One alternate world a day, or year, is all I can take.” Kitschi, antsy, shuffled on the vinyl seat cover like a bear with hemorrhoids. “Stop here!”
“We’re not moving.”
“No. No, we’re not, you’re right. But I just thought I’d introduce some unnecessary drama into our little story since nothing much is happening, anyway.” He paused, and intoned with decidedly ominous overtones and undertones: “Or will ever happen.”
Kitschi leaned over and looked upward through the back-seat window. Two suns appeared – one rote, one a smaller and lopsided sputtering globe somewhat akin to a solar panel lighthouse at the end of its warranty – burning through the existential mist, car fumes, and the expiring streaks of a chemtrail. He neglected to pay the driver, as befits a narrative which scorns legal and social givens for the much more fascinating and labyrinthian philosophical squalor of cut-rate sci-fi and Sleepless in Seattle romance where the unconvincing lovers meet, for the second time, (literally!) on page 918 of 925 pages, after obsessive, asexual longings more in tune with their spiritual make-up at meeting number one at ten years of age. But the breasts? Every woman in this parallel skit was obsessed about breasts, so the more seedy of the review-comments suggested. Their own, those belonging to their delightfully unabashed lesbian-for-a-day girlfriends, those in the afterlife. What, in the end, are breasts, anyway, but memory, but figments of creative unreality, a God in two existential lumps. A love story, with name-dropping pop-cult, which makes the highbrow name-dropping all the more pretentious when you realize it’s trying to impress by contrast, even though, like the fabulist silliness, it, too, is a drive-by colour of the phrase-moment, and is then remembered no more.
Kitschi alighted. The suns were bearing down on him with knowing. But the suns knowing was nothing like the knowing of the maliciously mysterious sperm-chrysalis droplets currently shooting across the asphalt at breakneck pace. It only takes one, thought the unfortunate reader, to impregnate a mind and transform an international culture.