Book Review: Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Name: Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Author: Haruki Murakami
Genre: Fiction
Language: English (Originally in Japanese)
Pages: 400 (Paperback)
Awards:Tanizaki Prize
Buy: FlipKartAmazon
My Rating: 

 His fantasies, with their easy reference to western pulp fiction and music, retain a beauty of the mind- Gaurdian

 A remarkable writer… He captures the common ache of the contemporary heart and head – Jay Mcknerney

Here is an abundant imagination at play – Sunday Times

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World follows split and parallel storyline. Both story narrated by either same person or different person (Tough to decide)The odd-numbered chapters take place in the ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland’ while  even-numbered chapters deal with ‘the End of the World’.

In ‘Hard-Boiled Wonderland’, narrator is a “Calcutec” a human data processor/encryption system who has been trained to use his subconscious as an encryption key and working for “The System”, governmental system, to protect data against “Semiotecs”, organization of criminal work in black market.  Calcutec called down by mysterious scientist, who is exploring “sound removal”, in a laboratory hidden within an anachronistic  version of Tokyo’s sewer system against regulations/law and agrees to “shuffle” data and completes an assignment. The calcutec eventually learns that he only has a day and a half to exist before he leaves the world he knows and delves forever into the world that has been created in his subconscious mind.

In ‘the End of the World’, a strange – isolated walled Town depicted in the frontispiece map as being surrounded by a perfect and impenetrable wall. The narrator is in the process of being accepted into the Town while his shadow has been “cut off” as per rule of Town. Residents of the Town are not allowed to have a shadow, and, it transpires, do not have a mind. The narrator’s shadow lives in the “Shadow Grounds” where he is not expected to survive the winter. The narrator goes to the library every evening where he is assisted by the librarian and learns to read dreams from the skulls of unicorns – work assign to him as Dream reader.

It gradually becomes evident that this Town is the world inside of the narrator from the Hard-Boiled Wonderland’s subconscious (the password he uses to control different aspects of his mind is even ‘end of the world’). The narrator grows to love the librarian while he discovers the secrets of the Town, and although he plans to escape the Town with his Shadow, he later goes back on his word and leaves his shadow to escape the Town alone.

Both storyline are thought proving, extremely creative, brilliant writing and exploring concepts of consciousness/unconscious mind. This is one  more masterpiece sculpted from so deep a place of imagination.

Some good lines from book:

  • Kindness and a caring mind are two separate qualities. Kindness is manners. It is superficial custom, an acquired practice. Not so the mind. The mind is deeper, stronger, and, I believe, it is far more inconstant.
  • Only where there is disillusionment and depression and sorrow does happiness arise; without the despair of loss, there is no hope.
  • Two people can sleep in the same bed and still be alone when they close their eyes.
  • Everyone may be ordinary, but they’re not normal.
  • Whiskey, like a beautiful woman, demands appreciation. You gaze first, then it’s time to drink.
  • Open your eyes, train your ears, use your head. If a mind you have, then use it while you can.
  • Unclose your mind. You are not a prisoner. You are a bird in fight, searching the skies for dreams.
  • I never trust people with no appetite. It’s like they’re always holding something back on you.
  • The mind is not like raindrops. It does not fall from the skies, it does not lose itself among other things.
  • Huge organizations and me don’t get along. They’re too inflexible, waste too much time, and have too many stupid people.
  • You got to know your limits. Once is enough, but you got to learn. A little caution never hurt anyone. A good woodsman has only one scar on him. No more, no less.
  • What was lost was lost. There was no retrieving it, however you schemed, no returning to how things were, no going back.
  • The unwaking world was as hushed as a deep forest.
  • Fairness is a concept that holds only in limited situations. Yet we want the concept to extend to everything, in and out of phase. From snails to hardware stores to married life. Maybe no one finds it, or even misses it, but fairness is like love. What is given has nothing to do with what we seek.
  • The best musicians transpose consciousness into sound; painters do the same for color and shape.
  • Time is too conceptual. Not that it stops us from filling it in. So much so, we can’t even tell whether our experiences belong to time or to the world of physical things.
  • The voice of the light remains ever so faint; images quiet as ancient constellations float across the domw of my dawning mind. They are indistinct fragments that never merge into a sensate picture.
  • Genius or fool, you don’t live in the world alone. You can hide underground or you can build a wall around yourself, but somebody’s going to come along and screw up the works.
  • I wasn’t particularly afraid of death itself. As Shakespeare said, die this year and you don’t have to die the next.
  • Never trust a man who carries a handkerchief, I always say. One of many prejudicial rules of thumb.
  • Evolution’s always hard. Hard and bleak. No such thing as happy evolution.

It’s well worth reading. Get it and read it.

About Author:
Haruki Murakami Source [Wiki]:
Haruki Murakami is a Japanese writer and translator. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered him critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and Jerusalem Prize among others. He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature. The Guardian praised him as “among the world’s greatest living novelists” for his works and achievements. Murakami’s fiction, often criticized by Japan’s literary establishment, is humorous and surreal, and at the same time digresses on themes of alienation and loneliness.Through his work, he is able to capture the spiritual emptiness of his generation and explore the negative effects of Japan’s work-dominated mentality. His writing criticizes the decline in human values and a loss of connection among people in Japan’s society.

Enjoy Reading !!!

This entry was posted in Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s