One of the most impressive things about IQ84 is how skillfully its themes are bound up together. A good example is a small moment regarding Aomame's reading of Proust where we see reality/dreams/fiction/time all merge.
Aomame describes the world that Proust creates (in In Search of Lost Time) as feeling like a "lonely little planet...like I'm experiencing someone else's dream. Like we're simultaneously sharing feelings. But I can't really grasp what it means to be simultaneous. Our feelings seem extremely close, but in reality there's a considerable gap between us" (775).
The gap recalls the gap between Aomame and Tengo, of course, on a narrative level, but also suggests the gap between writer and reader. Aomame's attempt to explain the feeling of reading Proust might well resemble our own experience immersed in Murakami's world: "there is a sense of time wavering irregularly when you try to forge ahead" (775).
A few pages later Aomame describes a dream as feeling like "a detailed scene from a small planet somewhere else" (781). Obviously the "small planet" links back to the description of Proust, connecting it to her dream world, which she recognizes as a dream even as she dreams it, just as Murakami's world takes on a reality of its own within our reading experience even while we recognize it as fictional.
I'm sure we'll find plenty of things to criticize when we meet, but can all of you book-clubbers agree that Murakami delivers a very enjoyable and sustained mindfuck?
Now check out this pic of Murakami browsing some records circa 1980: