My Prior Posts on Haruki Murakami
The Reading Life Japanese Literature Project
Hard Boiled Wonderland and The Edge of the World could almost be subtitled A Tale of Two Cities. The odd number chapters are set in a place called Hardboiled Wonderland. It is narrated (none of the characters are given names) by a human data encrypter who has been taught how to use his subconscious mind as a key to decoding encryptions. He works for some sort of government like organization whose work is in turn opposed by a shadowy underground group of people called semiotics who try to steal data from the organization. It is all very Kafkaesque with strange meetings in odd buildings with officials who both make little sense and seem to have the key to unlocking the secrets that will explain your seemingly senseless life to yourself.
The even numbered chapters are set in a strange very isolated town which is The End of the World. This section of the novel is very much in the tradition of magic realism and is really brilliantly done. It is a scary place but for sure an interesting one. The town is surrounded by a wall nothing can get through in either direction. The nameless narrator is in the process of being integrated into the very strange life of the town. His job is to be a dream reader. There are also lots of unicorns in the town. One of the common things that does link up both worlds is unicorn skulls.
The puzzle of this novel, among many others, is to see what the structural and thematic connections of the even and odd numbers sections can be seen to be. If you know please leave me a comment!
Hard Boiled Wonderland and The Edge of the World is really a fun read. Like most of his work, there are some sex scenes and Murakami is a master at describing the bodies of women. In most all of his works, you will find a woman who for no clear reason throws herself at a "nerd" like central male character in the book. There are all sort of really enjoyable references to mostly American movies and music and western Literature in the book. People who went to college in the late 1960s will relate well to the Bob Dylan references.
I read both this and The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann on my PC, switching back and forth. Once I thought I was reading Mann's work when I was in fact reading Murakami and admit I was very shocked by what I thought was the quite explicit sex scene that seemed so out of place in Mann. I laughed at my reaction when I figured it out!
I endorse this book for all Murakami fans (most of whom probably read the book long ago). I do not suggest it as a first Murakami. It was translated in 1991 by Arthur Birnbaum.
Will you reading IQ84 soon?