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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Cover of Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
Hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is Haruki Murakami's deep dive into the very nature of consciousness.
Across two parallel narratives, Murakami draws readers into a mind-bending universe in which Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is a novel that is at once hilariously funny and a deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.
Hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is Haruki Murakami's deep dive into the very nature of consciousness.
Across two parallel narratives, Murakami draws readers into a mind-bending universe in which Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is a novel that is at once hilariously funny and a deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    Elevator, Silence, Overweight

    The elevator continued its impossibly slow ascent. Or at least I imagined it was ascent. There was no telling for sure: it was so slow that all sense of direction simply vanished. It could have been going down for all I knew, or maybe it wasn't moving at all. But let's just assume it was going up. Merely a guess. Maybe I'd gone up twelve stories, then down three. Maybe I'd circled the globe. How would I know?

    Every last thing about this elevator was worlds apart from the cheap die-cut job in my apartment building, scarcely one notch up the evolutionary scale from a well bucket. You'd never believe the two pieces of machinery had the same name and the same purpose. The two were pushing the outer limits conceivable as elevators.

    First of all, consider the space. This elevator was so spacious it could have served as an office. Put in a desk, add a cabinet and a locker, throw in a kitchenette, and you'd still have room to spare. You might even squeeze in three camels and a mid-range palm tree while you were at it. Second, there was the cleanliness. Antiseptic as a brand-new coffin. The walls and ceiling were absolutely spotless polished stainless steel, the floor immaculately carpeted in a handsome moss-green. Third, it was dead silent. There wasn't a sound--literally not one sound--from the moment I stepped inside and the doors slid shut. Deep rivers run quiet.

    Another thing, most of the gadgets an elevator is supposed to have were missing. Where, for example, was the panel with all the buttons and switches? No floor numbers to press, no DOOR OPEN and DOOR CLOSE, no EMERGENCY STOP. Nothing whatsoever. All of which made me feel utterly defenseless. And it wasn't just no buttons; it was no indication of advancing floor, no posted capacity or warning, not even a manufacturer's nameplate. Forget about trying to locate an emergency exit. Here I was, sealed in. No way this elevator could have gotten fire department approval. There are norms for elevators after all.

    Staring at these four blank stainless-steel walls, I recalled one of Houdini's great escapes I'd seen in a movie. He's tied up in how many ropes and chains, stuffed into a big trunk, which is wound fast with another thick chain and sent hurtling, the whole lot, over Niagara Falls. Or maybe it was an icy dip in the Arctic Ocean. Given that I wasn't all tied up, I was doing okay; insofar as I wasn't clued in on the trick, Houdini was one up on me.

    Talk about not clued in, I didn't even know if I was moving or standing still.

    I ventured a cough, but it didn't echo anything like a cough. It seemed flat, like clay thrown against a slick concrete wall. I could hardly believe that dull thud issued from my own body. I tried coughing one more time. The result was the same. So much for coughing.

    I stood in that hermetically sealed vault for what seemed an eternity. The doors showed no sign of ever opening. Stationary in unending silence, a still life: Man in Elevator.

    I started to get nervous. What if the machinery had malfunctioned? Or suppose the elevator operator--assuming there was one in the building--forgot I was here in this box? People have lost track of me before.

    I strained to hear something, anything, but no sound reached my ears. I pressed my ear against the stainless-steel wall. Sure enough, not a sound. All I managed was to leave an outline of my ear on the cold metal. The elevator was made, apparently, of a miracle alloy that absorbed all noise. I tried whistling Danny Boy, but it came out like a dog wheezing with asthma.

    There was little...

About the Author-
  • Haruki Murakami is a best-selling Japanese writer. His works of fiction and non-fiction have garnered critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award and the Jerusalem Prize, among others. Murakami's fiction is humorous and surreal, focusing on themes of alienation and loneliness. He is considered an important figure in postmodern literature. The Guardian praised Murakami as "among the world's greatest living novelists" for his works and achievements. Murakami is the author of 1Q84, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Men Without Women and many more.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 26, 2010
    Murakami's two stories—which alternate, chapter by chapter—are told by two narrators, who split duties here. Ian Porter is the baritone, thoughtful and deliberative; Adam Sims is lighter spirited, flightier, and more amused by the bizarre comedy of Murakami's puzzle box. Both readers are well chosen, expertly picking their way across the minefield of this intoxicating, perplexing story. And their balancing act mimics the book's alternation of tones, styles, and stories. The recording is studded by occasional studio sound effects that are hardly necessary, but do manage to cleverly amplify the woozy, trippy disorientation of the tale. A Vintage paperback.

  • The Washington Post Book World

    "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."

  • Los Angeles Times Magazine "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."
  • Philadelphia Inquirer "Fantastical, mysterious, and funny . . . a fantasy world that might have been penned by Franz Kafka."
  • The Atlantic "Rich in action, suspense, odd characters and unexpected trifles . . . [a] provocative work."
  • Los Angeles Times Book Review "Murakami's gift is for ironic observations that hint at something graver. . . . He is wry, absurd, and desolate."
  • Village Voice Literary Supplement "An intertwining DNA model of seemingly contrary elements . . . a combination of Kafka's castle, Borges's library, and the Prisoner's TV village."
  • The Times (London) "Off the wall . . . hilariously bizarre . . . splendid . . . a remarkable book . . . Alfred Birnbaum . . . has captured the crazed, surreal feel of Murakami's Japanese."
  • Details "His novels . . . are set on fast-forward: raucous, slangy, irreverent."
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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
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Haruki Murakami
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