RandomAnthony'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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Feb 18, 2009

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The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World gets my vote the most unique and frustrating book in the Murakami catalog. I got the feeling that there’s a little bit of the fan in Murakami in this text; his love of PK Dick, Vonnegut, etc. seems present, and I imagine passages of the book were great fun to write as a tribute, if you will, to his influences. However, the cold, metallic neurophysiology, whether accurate or not (I don’t know much about brain chemistry, so I can’t say one way or the other) left me, for the first time in my long history with the author, hoping a long, clinical section near the middle of the book would end quickly. Luckily, the material bracketing that extended passage was strong although perhaps not coherent enough to place this book amongst Murakami’s best.

The book focuses in some ways on the conscious/unconscious reality/perceptual ground familiar to readers of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and After Dark. Murakami changes the context from the isolation of the well or mysterious rooms one can only sometimes enter to a place where brains are modified in ways that bridge or fail to bridge the conscious and unconscious minds for strategic purposes. In other words, Murakami places this book’s world, for better or for worse, firmly in the land of science fiction. The “other” realm, full of unicorns, retired generals, and demure librarians, is a rich, thoughtful meditation on the ways in which different parts of our consciousness interact. College students looking for term paper fodder related to fiction and Jung/Campbell would have a field day with this book.

But does that make for a great Murakami novel? No. While (in my eyes, and I know Murakami is one of those “love/hate” goodreads authors) most of the author’s work is transcendent and inspiring, The Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World earns those descriptors on rare and brief occasions. The book is good, interesting, even, but serves more as an intellectual exercise than a fun, “this is why I love books” read. For fans only.

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Reading Progress

02/18/2009 page 35
02/22/2009 page 95
23.75% "Getting into the groove...need to steal an hour somewhere with the book rather than just a few minutes here and there..."
02/27/2009 page 246
61.5% "This is so different from the other Murakami...I finally get the PK Dick references to his work..."
05/20/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Do tell about your moods, RA. Meanwhile, do tell your reaction to this book, for I feel like I'm the only human being alive who thinks Murakami is a ridiculously overrated writer, and I think there's a deeper meaning to your having started this twice and not finished it.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I feel like I'm the only human being alive who thinks Murakami is a ridiculously overrated writer.

Oh no you're not, Erik. I don't get his appeal. At all.

message 3: by RandomAnthony (last edited Feb 19, 2009 08:13AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

RandomAnthony You know, I'm a huge Murakami fan, but this one is a lot different than any of his other books that I've read. This is almost like a science fiction novel, really, and the other times I started the book I think I was burned out on both Mr. Murakami and the genre in general. I read a load of his books last year, probably too many in a row.

Murakami reaction seems to be one of those love/hate scenarios, like Confederacy of Dunces or Salinger. I can live with that. Nothin' wrong with a little disagreement every now and then, esp. with baseball season approaching:)

Lori Oh, another Murakami I haven't read. I'm a huge fan. But I hated Dunces. :)

message 5: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ben That makes sense, sir.

RandomAnthony Thank you, sir. I had to stop and start this book a few times. I almost wonder if this was more fun for Murakami to write than for me to read, if you will...

Rubi i kind off agree here. the end was disappointing.
oh well, can't always win.. still Murakami is one of the best living writers we have today

message 8: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy Stimulating review, RA.
I think this was the first Murakami that I read, so it shaped my expectations of the others.
I want to re-read it now, so I can work out where it fits in the scheme of things.
Plus I have a memory of a castle or a building in the book that I associate with Mervyn Peake and I can't remember whether this is in the book or I'm just making it up or confusing it with some other book.
Anyway, I'm interested in the role of buildings in Murakami's books and want to get to the bottom of it.

RandomAnthony Wel said, Ian...I'm looking forward to his new one in September.

message 10: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian "Marvin" Grayejoy RandomAnthony wrote: "Wel said, Ian...I'm looking forward to his new one in September."

We should get a reading group together. It will be a big event.

RandomAnthony That's a great idea, sir...

message 12: by Ben (new) - rated it 5 stars


message 13: by Gregg (new)

Gregg helpful review, thanks. I've just discovered this author via an article in Harper's, and am relying on the good readers here for some guidance.

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