"Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami

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I have never been taken to the realm of the "other" so successfully nor so beguilingly as by Murakami in this dual tale of technology, mystery, and danger. This book is part polemic about modern technology, and where it might take us, and part cautionary piece on where we might be without it. Are the two story lines exactly alike? Are they simply telling the same story in two separate historical epochs?

One narrative thread takes us to the near future, where the hero’s brain is used to store data, and he loses consciousness when the data is retrieved. Thugs pursue this protagonist for what’s on his mind, and the “Hard-Boiled Wonderland” story involves a scary, almost-dystopian future full of intrigue and danger. The “End of the World” thread is set in a non-specific dark age without technology, but in which the hero listens to the skulls of the dead as they sing to him.

If this sounds odd, there’s a very good reason for it. It is odd. And vivid and challenging and breathtaking and wonderful. This is pyrotechnic Murakami, weaving a spell. This is mysterious Murakami, challenging us to decide, from his out-of-this-world plot, what could he be driving at? Murakami holds his eminent place in the world of literature, as polarizing as he is, for very, very good reasons. For a trip to a place the cosmologists call the “absolute elsewhere,” this book is your magic carpet.
This is as stunning and as innovative as it gets.
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