Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami
Things I think Haruki Murakami likes: Food, record players, women’s ears, and melancholic, yet matter-of-fact, meditations on loneliness and fate.
I went into this novel mistakenly believing it to be a collection of short stories, which only heightened my disorientation as Murakami chapter-hopped between his two main worlds. However, disorientation didn’t hurt my chances too much, since the novel’s unnamed narrator is just as unable to interpret his surroundings as I was. This is an almost Alice-in-Wonderland tale for adults. It’s just as fantastical and ominous, but the narrator is no Alice. Alice is constantly curious, trying to make sense of her surroundings, an adventurer. Murakami’s narrator, by contrast, is the most inert part of the novel. He passes through increasingly confusing circumstances, but seems to accept that sometimes, the world doesn’t make sense, and we experience discomfort, and he may as well just keep on being since he has no other choice. I found rather refreshing.
Murakami deposits quasi-koans and witty truths throughout the novel that a hipster (or, okay, even me in my hipster moods) would love to use as the “About Me” quote on her Facebook. His story is hazy and dreamlike, intensely artistic; a multi-sensory experience in text. Read it before bed, and keep a pen close by.