Well, I am finally going to see what all the fuss is about Haruki Murakami., also author of “The Wind Up Bird Chronicle” and about a dozen other books. His books seem to be all the rage with younger European Couchsurfing.com site participants…Murakami is mentioned repeatedly in the forum book groups. I arbitrarily picked “Hard-Boiled Wonderland And The End Of The World” to begin with! LOL. Hell of a title! The LA Times says that Murakami “has become the foremost representative of a new style of Japanese writing: hip, cynical and highly stylized, set at the juncture of cyberpunk, postmodernism, and hard-boiled detective fiction. It was the mention that he is “adept at deadpan wit, outragious style” that roped me in.
The jacket promises a ‘hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive novel” written by “Japan’s most popular (and controversial) fiction writer, who “hurtles into the consciousness of the West…draws readers into a narrative particle accelerator in which a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddauter, Laren Ball, Bob Dylan, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling affect. What emerges is simultaneously cooler than zero and unaffectedly affecting, a hilariously funny and deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.”
Well, we’ll see if it lives up to the hype…if it just doesn’t go completely over my head!
Well, the book had me in it’s grip the entire read. No way to tell how it was going to end until you got to it. And then even then… It is all that was promised on the book cover…but the jacket doesn’t do the book justice because it is SO much more…layers upon layers of meaning inventively created both structurally and narratively. It’s not just cyberpunk although use of computers are made to structure the story line. And I wouldn’t call it “hilariously funny” either although the writing was witty. Published in 1985, it if full of pop references that would make the book recognizable to 60′s baby boomers. But it is no mere comment on Western pop culture. It’s not just scifi…it was too personal…too close to every day conscious and unconscious reality…IMHO. It isn’t just a modernistic, subversive, radical treatise on the ravages of contemporary society and the havoc that technology has wreaked on us. No. Even though it was deadly serious, we are at peace at the end.
Having read the book makes you think even more than in the reading. I am convinced Murakami is not just playing around with technique. I am thinking about mortality, aging, totalitarianism, alienation, the disconnect between our conscious and unconscious minds, that thoughts are things. Thoughts create things. Quantum physics proves the power the observer has over what he or she observes, how just witnessing an event helps to create that event. I am thinking about the loss of the soul, free choice, belief, creativity, boredom, ambiguity of morality, personal responsibility, control. All of this without the author mentioning any of it directly. Here is one succinct review by a write/editor on amazon.com:
“This is simply the best book I have ever read! I was hooked from the first page and drawn into the world of the narrator as subtly as one is drawn into a dream. The linking of the subconscious and conscious elements of the mind are at work here, and this is what makes this book all at once so wonderful, disturbing and enlightening. It is a psychological masterpiece and lays bare the interconnectedness of all things- the people in our lives, the places, the choices we make, our dreams, desires, longings and regrets and most importantly, the often inexplicable and enigmatic relationship between our subconscious and conscious mind. The masterful way Murakami interweaves the chapters begins with a divergent simplicity and gradually progresses to a complex, synchronistic web/mandala in which all points share a beginning yet have no end.
The book has taken me to my mental edge. There are insights here I haven’t plumbed yet. The book makes me want to listen to funky electronic music.
What more do you want from one 400 page book written by a masterful writer? I can hardly wait for the “Wind Up Bird Chronicle” and “The Sheep Chase.”