Hard Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World by H. Mura | Writing Forums
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Hard Boiled Wonderland & the End of the World by H. Mura (1 Viewer)

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Split narratives, when done by a pro, are sex in book form. The problem is I'm not quite sure whether Haruki Murakami really milked the technique for all it's worth. Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World (henceforth HBW), in addition to having one of the snazziest titles ever, boasts an assortment of quirky characters, eine Kafkaesque Stimmung, er, I mean, kafkaesque atmosphere, weird fish worshipping subterrainean monsters that steal people, and a sort of cyber-punk digital information trade.

With 40 chapters, 20 for each narrative, we get sucked right into two worlds that seem utterly foreign to one another but similar in other, creepier ways. In the first narrative, we glimpse into a slightly futuristic Japan, where our nameless narrator is a Calcutec, a sort of human switchboard who can use his mind to encrypt information to deter information theft by the Semiotecs, a digi-mafia that is able to steal actual information from the mind and sell it on the black market. When he's called upon to do a special project for a professor, he's sucked into a web of strange occurences, danger, thugs and sound fuckery. Sound fuckery? That's right, folks, it seems this scientist has found a way to control and manipulate sound, which explains the mute button characters seem to have throughout the novel. But stop me, I'm already saying too much.

In the second narrative we are privvy to a numb place called, fittingly, the End of the Word, a dreary, surreal landscape littered with mindless (but strangely communicable) men and women who go about their daily lives in monotony. Toss in unicorns, the narrator's strange dreamreading job using skulls at the library, a hulking musclebound gatekeeper, and severed shadows, and you a good idea of what we're working with here.

As the story progresses, both of these narratives seem to intertwine in subtle ways, until the end, when we find out, *gasp*, what's the dilly.

First, before I pass judgment, let me say that techno-lit is a total turnoff for me. Still, the book was interesting enough to merit me finishing it. Murakami strays very close to the border of believability, sometimes going over the top with a Vonnegut sort of quality to his writing (he even includes a couple little drawings for elucidation, just like uncle Kurt). While the characters were believable, many seemed almost juvenile, almost caricatured. I still haven't figured out if this was a bad thing.

Overall, HBW is a nice little book by a great writer, and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it so much more if I could stomach cyber stuff. The split narrative was snazzy, but he could have played with it a lot more. In fact, reading through HBW, I really thought that there was going to be more to the connection between the two worlds then there was. I was hoping that this would be the case, in fact, because quite early on I saw the connection and prayed for some really fucked twist. The twist was a bit fucked, but also a bit disappointing. A worthy read, though, just the same.

:3stars: 3.5 / 5
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