Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Hard-boild Wonderland & The End of the World

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

Quotes from the book:=
"Stealing memories is stealing time"
"But on the phenomenological level, this world is only one out of countless possibilities. As you create memories you're creatin' a parallel world"

We are in a future Japan where information is a commodity highly prized and the Calculecs work for The System whose competitors are the Semiotecs of The Factory but maybe these two organisations are one and the same or maybe not.

Two parallel story lines start with our narrator travelling in a hermetically sealed lift which he is not sure if it is going up or down. To calm himself he counts his loose change in both pockets simultaneously. A neat trick but simple for a Calcutec whose core consciousness has been altered so he can run information through one hemisphere of his brain, encrypt and scramble it.

He is met by a "chubby girl" in pink who leads him through labyrinthine passages to meet her grandfather, an eccentric professor who, amongst other things, can turn off sound. He is given information to scramble and told that the world depends on him carrying out his task.

The concurrent storyline is 'The End of the World" which is a walled town with few inhabitants and a herd of golden unicorns. Our narrator has just arrived but he has no memory of how he got there or memory of his past life. On entering the town he has to give up his shadow and becomes the towns dream reader. The shadow will not last long without him so they make a pact that he will map out the town for escape and they will leave. (This map appears in the frontispiece of the book).

Tokyo is the setting of the "Hard boiled Wonderland" which is full of hazard with a nod to Raymond Chandler we have two heavies in pursuit of our hero. There are strange watery underground places where dangerous creatures called INKlings roam. The End of the World is full of warnings, whirlpools and dark forests.

We inhabit both these strange places through Murakami's vivid descriptions and journey with our hero and supporting characters as the plot unfolds.

Murakami has a light touch and the theme of memory, consciousness and self is explored in an imaginative and entertaining way with a touch of dry wit.

Verdict - Recommended Read

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