Book Sixty-Three: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

I love Murakami, and I love this book. It’s really two books in one which interlace with each other, actually, and I keep meaning to read one and then the other, instead of reading the book in the presented order, but I forget to do it every time I read this book.  I also think that one’s first impression of the book would be markedly different depending on how it was read, and that’s sort of neat.

It’s hard to talk about this book without giving the game away, as it were, but suffice it to say that it’s good. It has that pure clarity that I really like about Murakami; I love hearing mundane details like what the character eats for dinner, and when he pees, and how he acquired his car, although these same details sometimes alienate other readers. And I love the apparent simplicity of the main character, who just bowls along through life and then hits a wall, of sorts.

Over the course of just a few days, the character’s life totally changes, and he is forced to make some very difficult choices, but not the sort of choices one usually finds in books about crisis. The book explores the nature of the subconscious, the mind, and the core of one’s identity, and I find myself liking all of the characters in it, even when they are bad people.

Murakami has a way of briefly sketching in characters that really brings them to life. It’s like a few economical lines in a Picasso which reveal hitherto unknown forms. I love the voracious librarian, the fat girl in pink, and Junior. It’s also just a well crafted and beautifully structured book, with a lot going on for it.

So go read it.

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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, by Haruki Murukami. Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum. Published 1993, 400 pages. Fiction.