Information is everything in Hard-boiled Wonderland. A specialist encrypter is attacked by thugs with orders from an unknown source, is chased by invisible predators, and dates an insatiably hungry librarian who never puts on weight. In the End of the World a new arrival is learning his role as dream-reader. But there is something eerily disquieting about the changeless nature of the town and its fable-like inhabitants. Told in alternate chapters, the two stories converge and combine to create a novel that is surreal, beautiful, thrilling and extraordinary.
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I'm not sure-- I don't think the narrators had a lot to work with because the book itself wasn't very interesting.
No-- I have liked several of Murakami's later books (including Kafka on the Shore, which is like this book but 10 times more compelling).
See additional comments for the things that bothered me about this book... if you don't understand/care about science, and if you never think about books through a feminist lens, I think you could enjoy this book. I did not enjoy it.
The heart of the plot is a concept Murakami made up that is based on what he calls "neurophysiology." But it isn't neurophysiology at all, it is made up philosophical pseudoscience, and as a neurobiologist it was REALLY boring to read about. People who are more informed about computer science than I am might say the same thing about the more technological aspects of the book. Overall, it felt like a 3rd rate interpretation of Godel, Escher, Bach.
The female characters in the book also really bothered me. I'm not trying to be overly feminist here, but they were totally flat and mostly there to be talked about in an overtly sexual manner. For example, one character was exclusively referred to as "the chubby girl" and her only personality trait was constantly requesting to have sex with the narrator. It was really annoying and boring to read about this dude assessing the bodies of all these women and whether he could get an erection for them (yes, really, that happens). I don't recall feeling this way about Kafka on the Shore and Wind-Up Bird Chronicles; all the female characters in those books also have sex with the main character (surprise!), but they are also interesting/mysterious and evolve somewhat throughout the novel.
Murakami's prose can be absolutely beautiful, even in translation. In the End of the World portion, his description of the golden-fleeced unicorns is amazing, very realistic and un-Disneyesque. In the Hard-boiled portion, the story takes on a "noir-ish" quality and his protagonist is a down-to-earth everyman. The story is confounding, like a puzzle with many pieces that don't quite fit, but nevertheless very compelling. I read this about a year ago, so I've lost a lot of the small bits, but the feeling of the book has stayed with me. That's my definition of a good book - unforgettable.
While reading this, it occurred to me that, "oh, this is like Alice in Wonderland" in which Alice goes to a dreamlike place where things don't quite make sense in the "real" world. Then I remembered the title, so I guess that isn't amazing insight on my part.
I've read 2 other Murakami books, Kafka on the Shore and The Windup Bird Chronicle, both of which kept me reading Murakami, but neither as unforgettable as HBW&EOW. I like breaks between reading his books, but I think I'm ready for another now.
I love sailing, Apple Inc., good books, good music and fine films
This is Haruki Marakami at his best , the story telling and the world he creates are like no other author alive today
This novel has the standard trappings of a type of metaphysical/quirky detective story that has become somewhat common since this book was written (published 1985). What separates this novel, though, is that all the setting entirely serves the more important allegorical elements of the text. This is not to imply that the work is obtuse, as a lot of allegorical pieces are, it's actually very easy to get into and follow. If you expect the book to follow the standard course of most detective stories, however, you may be disappointed when the plot does not end in an action filled climax. Rather, the themes are allowed to play themselves out as best serves them, and the novel is far greater for it. Having just finished the book, I think I have a decent grasp on what the book is "about" but there is plenty of room for individual interpretation, discussion and re-reading, without being so ambiguous as to throw off more casual reading.
Haruki Murakami seems to have an endless imagination! In this novel he manages to create an intense examination of the meaning of 'mind' in a world ruled by the control of information collection. At times I needed to go back and re-listen to paragraphs as the deep and oblique and sometimes beautiful images float from his words and touch something deep inside.
This is no ordinary story and if you have ever questioned what it means to be 'mindful', both literally and psychologically, this book will take you away.
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I wished that I could read and understand Japanese because there are some stories that does not translate well and this is one of them. While I was reading "Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World", I just had a feeling that I was missing something from the fable. I can only imagine the obscure writing of Haruki Murakami and on how difficult it can be to translate his words into English.
After reading my disclaimer, this is a classic from Haruki Murakami because it is just a bizarre story. Your shadow is detach from your body and lives on in a different world. From what I've interpret, the shadow is trying to unite with the body in the real world and trying to get pass the gatekeeper. This is a very confusing and complex story, but as a fan of this author, I just enjoyed dissecting the story into different levels and coming to my own interpretation.
This isn't my favorite of all the Murakami works (a bit too much exposition, without the action or movement), but it was very good. The author has once again created a world that is just a bit off, but full of life, color and intrigue.
This early novel is constructed like many of the later ones, with two parallel worlds which ultimately connect. We are kept guessing but entertained throughout. Magic realism aside, Murakami always creates great characters and realistic, amusing dialogue. The reading is fine although it is a mystery to me why nobody can teach the readers how to pronounce easy Japanese words, such as common place names. I think this is true of all the Murakami books.
I enjoyed this story, balanced somewhere between science-fiction and fantasy. This particular version is great and the two narrators are perfect for their parts! The only issue I had is that there are two diagrams specifically referenced in the text of the book (one diagram and I can't remember what the other one was) and there's a halt in the audio as the narrators wave their arms around (or something) in a vain attempt to indicate what you're missing out on. Don't let that dissuade you from listening if you're interested as it's not crucial to the plots, but possibly worth knowing about ahead of time.
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