Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

A data processor is part of an experiment.  He learns to separate his brain so that the right hemisphere doesn't know what the left hemisphere is doing. Told in alternating chapters the reader is along for a mind blowing experience.  Seriously.

Right Brain-
He enters a elevator in a cold office building in Tokyo.  He walks down a long hallway behind a pleasantly plump 17 year old in pink attire who voice is turned off.  Good thing he knows how to read lips.  He puts on galoshes, goggles and rain gear and enters a dark place with a loud waterfall and is warned to watch out for Inklings.  The bizarre professor meets him halfway and takes him to his office. He notices there are a lot of paperclips on the professors desk. The professor asks him to shuffle data and to be careful because "other" people want to steal this information.

Left brain-
He enters a place known as the End of the World.  Once you enter you can never leave.  The only way to enter the end of the world is to have your shadow cut off and removed.  Shadows are not allowed inside the walled city.  Reluctantly, he agrees to leave is shadow at the gate and enter the city.  Here he sees a herd of beautiful unicorns that enter the city at daybreak and leave at nightfall.  He becomes a dream reader and everyday visits the library where there are no books, only unicorn skulls.  He reads the skulls with the help of the librarian, who he is starting to fall in love with.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a futuristic thriller with elements of American film culture, set to a Bob Dylan soundtrack.  It's like reading a book loaded with film noir. There are some amazing scenes that read like an action film, where the culture of the West meets the culture of the East.  Some scenes reminded me of The Goonies and Raider's of the Lost Ark and others reminded me of an episode of X-files.

When I started reading this book for book club, I was dreading it.  The cover sucks and is dull, I thought the book would be too and as I kept turning the pages faster and faster, I was left thinking, this book is awesome.  It is so deep and meaningful and the cover doesn't do this book justice.  Hard-boiled wonderland and the End of the World wins the award for the best named book in my world.
The characters are unique, entertaining and a little exaggerated.  You never learn the name of the narrator, or anyone else for that matter.  Their realities are all distorted, and they hide from the "real" world in their own ways.  My favorite character was the shadow.  It is so a creative idea to think of your shadow as a separate being with feelings and a mind of his own.  A shadow trying to save you from yourself.

Murakami is a genius and this book is highly inventive.  I was blown away by the author's creativity.  Hard-boiled wonderland is an instant classic and demands to be talked about and taken apart and examined.  This book doesn't fit neatly into a category.  It is a wild adventure through the two hemispheres of your brain.  It will fire you up, confuse you, leave you stunned and then have you begging for more, more, more.

I am kowtowing to Huruki Murakami.

Distorted reality anyone?