- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (March 2, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0679743464
- ISBN-13: 978-0679743460
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 486 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel (Vintage International) Paperback – March 2, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Murakami's lightning prose more than sustains the elaborate plot of this thriller, set in a Tokyo of the near future.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“Murakami’s bold willingness to go straight over the top [is] a signal indication of his genius . . . a world-class writer who has both eyes open and takes big risks.” –The Washington Post Book World
“He has become the foremost representative of a new style of Japanese writing: hip, cynical, highly stylized, set at the juncture of cyberpunk, postmodernism, and hard-boiled detective fiction. . . . Murakami [is] adept at deadpan wit, outrageous style.” –Los Angeles Times Magazine
“Fantastical, mysterious, and funny . . . a fantasy world that might have been penned by Franz Kafka.” –Philadelphia Inquirer
“Rich in action, suspense, odd characters and unexpected trifles . . . [a] provocative work.” –The Atlantic
“Murakami’s gift is for ironic observations that hint at something graver. . . . He is wry, absurd, and desolate.” –Los Angeles Times Book Review
“[A] mix of American fun and Japanese dread.” –Esquire
“An intertwining DNA model of seemingly contrary elements . . . a combination of Kafka’s castle, Borges’s library, and the Prisoner’s TV village.” –Village Voice Literary Supplement
“Off the wall . . . hilariously bizarre . . . splendid . . . a remarkable book . . . Alfred Birnbaum . . . has captured the crazed, surreal feel of Murakami’s Japanese.” –The Times (London)
“His novels . . . are set on fast-forward: raucous, slangy, irreverent.” –Details
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I'm 76. I've worked for almost forty years with dying folks and those experiencing catastrophic loss. These last few years my fairly constant companion, death, has come intimately into my own life. Dear ones, close, have died. And I too have little deaths often, as my body, and worse, my mind loses this, that, and sometimes the other thing.
So I began the book examining my own grief and mulling through the past, balancing, opening, letting go.
As I read, each chapter seemed to keep pace with my moment, sometimes leading, sometimes following. I spend so much of my time speaking to balance and rhythm as it relates to lifecycles. And here I was in a gentle dance with the words, the specifics of story and memory, and a sense, somehow, of healing.
As with all of his books, I hated for the words to end. But this time, I felt not a sense of loss as I read the last line, but a feeling of peace.
I would like to thank Haruki Murakami for all his books, but would especially like for him to know how powerfully "Hard-Boiled-Wonderland At The End Of The World" interacted and affected my moment.
This book is truly out there -- our hero wanders into a scene that is as absurd and silly as a comic book, and some of the wacky science is a little too much. But it's all just the vehicle for expressing a truly thoughtful and unexpected view of ones consciousness, and what has meaning, or even perhaps what -is- meaning. It has been a while since I read Sartre, Kafka, Camus and others but it recall thinking each had a surreal vision of daily reality -- characters were just foils for their ideas. This is similar in some ways.
Murakami, so far has impressed me with his ability to bring wit, humor, immediacy and his own personality and loves into his writing. This makes it approachable, fun, and a little less self-important than these other great authors. This book is not one I would recommend if you're interested in starting with Murakami -- Kafka at the Shore or 1Q84 both fit that bill well. But if you are a fan, and properly prepared for the bizarre, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is a stunning and beautiful work of literature.
The human mind is what we call a state machine. It’s composed of switches that can be on or off. The “state” referred to is the on-off condition of the whole switching “ensemble” at a given time. The machine moves from state to state (through the available “state space”) as time progresses. The human mind is a near-infinite state space machine. That is, there are enormous numbers of switching configurations it can demonstrate.
The basic premise is that you can use the instantaneous state of the brain to create an encryption code to secure data. As the brain state is far larger than any existing public encryption key, you can create an unbreakable code key. The problem is that the brain state keeps changing. So you have to store the state at the instant of encryption. To do that, you must create a separate mind that you can rope off, preserve and go back to when you want to decrypt your data. Somehow, the kindly old scientist called “grandfather” found out how to do this with a real brain. This, of course, was of enormous interest to governments and to other nefarious agencies.
The problem was that all but one of the subjects “grandfather” treated died. The one survivor remained by creating a third brain state that was, in fact, another world to which its creator could escape. This “world” would last forever and its inhabitants would be immortal. Longevity was not in their existing for all time in the physical universe. But rather, the nearly infinite capacity of the human brain could segment each instant in to smaller and smaller “sub-instants” effectively making a finite interval of time last forever. It’s “kind of like Zeno’s paradox” grandfather observes.
This, by itself is interesting, but Murakami, as far as I know, is not a scientist. He is, like grandfather, largely self-taught in the field. And he has no real interest in the science he spins. His real interest is to explore the making and mechanism of the human mind. He engages in this exploration to achieve an understanding of what a “character” is in literature – how a character can represent a mind, a mental state. Given this, it is really amazing how coherent the technical issues of the book come out.
So, was the book worth the read? If you’re expecting a novel like The Wind-up Bird Chronicles” or “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki,” forget it. This is not it. This is an exploration of mind and literature. It’s also, like I said, a science fiction book. The writing, of course, is spectacular and mood evoking. But the characters themselves lack the engaging quality and real-world anchors of some of Murakami’s previously drawn figures. But part of Murakami’s great talent is that he can work in many genres and weave some really weird “stuff” into his stories while still maintaining credibility as an author. I think this is an important book, as it exposes what one of the great novelists of our time thinks about his art. But it’s certainly unlike the main body of his literary work.
I suppose it all just depends on your view, doesn't it? Which is what this book all about. Our hero is really an amazing person. He is imbued with a gift, and then that gift is made into a weapon (of sorts). but how much of his humanity did he sacrifice along the way?
First published in 1985, it holds up quite well now. The horrific journeys taken seem like suicide. Or do they? Lots of humor, and lots of Western references too! This is nt just a very serious look into the consciousness of our hero, but also an examination of choices made, and to be made.