Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679743460, 1993, 416pp.)
The Short of It:
Mesmerizing and magical.
The Rest of It:
Talk about cutting it close! I had planned to finish my last book of the year a few days ago, but as usual, my vision of what I felt could be done, didn’t quite mesh with the reality laid out before me. Funny, because that’s sort of what this book is about. Reality versus what we think reality to be.
Those of you familiar with this blog know that I have a thing for Murakami’s writing. His writing is unlike anything I’ve ever read. Much of what he writes is surreal and strange but a lot of what he writes is just so normal. Normal in that he has a way of making simple things sound marvelous. The simple act of brewing coffee becomes something special in Murakami’s hands. I love that about his writing.
This novel is no exception and might be my favorite of his yet. A data processor finds himself in a strange situation. Hired by an eccentric professor who happens to be secreted away under the subway system in Japan, he realizes quickly that the job he’s been hired to do is anything but standard. The work that he’s been given is important enough for the government, known as The System, to become involved and although the professor’s intentions were good initially, his little experiment has gone very wrong.
In a parallel story, a man finds himself trapped behind a great wall surrounded by beasts which can only be unicorns. As he tries to make sense of this world and the importance of the unicorns themselves, he begins to question his existence and purpose.
Sounds bizarre, right?
As bizarre as these stories are, Murakami manages to pull both stories together, creating what I feel is his most profound work yet. As an end-of-the-year read, I don’t think I coud have picked a better book. Its largeness is felt on every page yet it’s totally readable and not hoity-toity in the way that books like this can sometimes be.
It’s fantasy and literary fiction all wrapped up together and I absolutely loved it. It left me with big thoughts and yet somehow, I feel rejuvenated too.
Even after all my gushing, if you’re still not sure about Murakami, this April I am hosting a read-along for The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I promise it will be fun and easy with very little to do but enjoy the book. After the New Year, I’ll post more about it so look for that post if you are interested. I’ve not read the book yet myself so we’ll be experiencing it together. For now, write down this hashtag #winditup2013!
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