I couldn’t tell you the last time I read Murakami, but I now remember that the last time I read him, I swore I would read all of his work, and I’m making that oath again.
He is magnificently imaginative, terrifying, mystical, and believable all at once. He throws you into the deep end and patiently waits for you to swim or drown; he doesn’t care which happens. He moves the finish line just as you’re about to reach it, over and over again. You want more.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is two books. Fine, it’s one book. But there are two narratives, parallel but only intertwined in one very, very important way. Oh and also eight hundred tiny ways. They are told in alternating chapters, with individual headers. The one book is the story of the hard-boiled wonderland. The other is the story of the end of the world.
I can barely begin to tell you what it’s about, without spoiling it, reducing it, misrepresenting it, or all of that at once. The best I can say it that it’s incredibly dense prose, and deeply philosophical. It relies at times on the logical calculations that philosophers use, and it almost lost me there, because that math is somewhat above my head. But at face value, it’s the story of a man struggling with the meaning and purpose of life.
And the magic is really in the details. I could tell you everything about the narrator, as much as he knows about himself, I should say (he has memory gaps, the reason for which becomes apparent as the story unfolds). But I didn’t realize until I was about 350 pages into the book that I don’t know his name. In fact, we never learn anyone’s name. What’s the point? We’re all just a collection of experiences and memories, in our minds. But if we lose our minds, are we still who we were?
Oops, I fell in a Murakami hole.