Paula's Reviews > Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
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's review
Aug 04, 10

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, second-or-third-time-around
Read from July 23 to August 01, 2010 , read count: 2

I first read Hard-Boiled Wonderland . . . back in 2003, at which time I listed it as one of my Best Reads for that year and would probably have given it 5 stars if goodreads had existed 7 years ago. This time around, I still really enjoyed the novel, but with a few reservations. Here's what I wrote back in 2003: The central character here is a “calcutec” whose conscious self becomes uncoupled from and supplanted by his unconscious self due to some experimental machinations by the Professor. The plot is inventive, or I should say both plots are inventive. Strange as they are, I found all of the characters in both worlds to be fully realized. I like one reviewer’s description of the Wonderland narrative as at first fast-paced like an adventure novel while the End of the World narrative is static, dream-like. As both stories progress, speed reverses so that Wonderland slows down when the narrator lives out his last day in the mind that he has always known to be his waking consciousness while the End of the World speeds up. Murakami’s is a fresh take on the old cliché, “I’m losing my mind” or “I’m going out of my mind.”

This time around, I was much less convinced by the character of the Professor with his garbled theories, his ethics-free experiments in consciousness engineering on human subjects and his annoyingly transcribed speech anomalies (this last may be a translation problem, but it drove me nuts). In contrast to the professor, who runs away from every mess he creates (at first to an underground lab and finally, to Finland)the calcutec/ dreamreader, the "hero" of both tales, decides to take responsibility for the End of the World, with its inhabitants and its beasts that resemble unicorns, that his core consciousness created.

The lesson learned might well be that memory is the key to the mind and that love (and music)just might unlock (lost) memory.

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