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


Before reading this book I read Farewell My Lovely by Raymond Chandler and The Castle by Franz Kafka. It was the first time I prepared for a book and I must say it paid off. Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World consists of two alternating storylines. Hard-boiled Wonderland resembles a piece of hard-boiled crime fiction regarding writing style as well as content. The main character is an information expert of sorts, hired to process and shuffle information for a mysterious old man. There's an old man's sexy granddaughter, underground passage and dangerous beings living under ground, named the INKlings. The story evolves into a mystery involving a unicorn scull, a librarian and two unsentimental thugs. 

The End of the World is written differently, it's lyrical, peaceful and it echoes melancholy and painful loss. An unnamed narrator arrives to a town surrounded by the wall. His shadow is cut away from him by the Gatekeeper, who explains that his function in the town called The End of the World is one of a Dreamreader. He is to go to the library every day, where the Librarian will prepare him dreams to read. What he reads are sculls of the beasts living outside of the city.

Almost from the start I knew both stories are somehow connected, but I didn't know how. Murakami gives the reader hints all the time: an overwhelming sense of loss, the narrator in one story slowly drifting away, while in the other he seems to belong more and more, felling loss at the same time. He feels he is crumbling, his past seems to be drifting away. At a certain moment he asks himself: »Which part of me is thinking this.« After a conversation with the old man, things fall into their proper places.

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is in all its weirdness unmistakably a part of Murakami's dual world. As in his other novels, something happens, prompting the main character to enter another world. What kind of a world is it this time: a parallel world, the creation of his mind or something else entirely? Reading about the here and now reality and another world made me think about Plato's cave, shadows and the question of what is real, if anything. A town encircled by a wall reminded me of Murakami's wells. Even the word sounds similar. People without shadows become in a way empty, without mind, feelings, identity. It's not much different from an empty well, is it?

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Preden sem se lotila te knjige, sem prebrala Zbogom, draga moja, Raymonda Chandlerja in Grad Franza Kafke. Nikoli prej se nisem recimo temu na študiozen način lotevala branja leposlovne knjige, vendar moram priznati, da se je izplačalo. Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World vsebuje dve zgodbi. Poglavja se izmenjujejo, vsaka je napisana v svojem slogu. Hard-boiled Wonderland je podobna trdi kriminalki, tako po slogu pisanja kot po zgodbi. Glavni lik je neke vrste informacijski strokovnjak, ki ga skrivnostni starec najame, da zanj procesira informacije. Preden pride do starca spozna njegovo privlačno vnukinjo, hodnike, izkopane pod zemljo in nevarna bitja, ki tam živijo. Zgodba se razvije v kriminalko, v kateri se pojavijo še enorogova lobanja, lepa knjižničarka in dva nesentimentalna grobijana.

The End of the World (Konec sveta) je drugače napisan. Slog je liričen, miren in melanholičen. Izžareva bolečino izgube. Neimenovani pripovedovalec prispe v mesto, ki je obdano z obzidjem. Ob prihodu mu Vratar odreže senco in razloži, da bo njegova naloga v Koncu sveta ta, da bo postal Bralec sanj. Vsak dan gre v knjižnico, kjer mu Knjižničarka pripravi sanje, ki naj bi jih prebral. Sanje niso nič drugega kot lobanje zveri, ki živijo onkraj obzidja.

Skoraj od začetka sem vedela, da sta obe zgodbi nekako povezani, vendar nisem vedela kako. Murakami nam nenehno daje namige: vseobsegajoč občutek izgube, pripovedovalec se v eni zgodbi počasi izgublja, medtem kot v drugo vedno bolj pripada, obenem pa čuti, da nekaj manjka. Počuti se kot da razpada, kot da se njegova preteklost izgublja. Nekoč se vpraša kateri del njega misli to, o čemer govori. Po pogovoru s starcem se stvari postavijo na svoje mesto.

Knjiga je v svoji čudaškosti nedvomno del Murakamijevega dvojnega sveta. Kot v nekaterih drugih njegovih romanih, se glavnemu junaku nekaj zgodi, kar ga vrže v drug svet. Kakšen je tokrat: vzporedni svet, kreacija njegove podzavesti ali nekaj popolnoma drugega? Med branjem o resničnosti tukaj in zdaj in o drugem svetu sem se spomnila Platonove votline, senc in vprašanja kaj je resnično. Če sploh kaj. Mesto, obkroženo z zidom spominja na Murakamijeve vodnjake. Ljudje brez senc postanejo prazni, brez volje, čustev, identitete, kar pa ni bistveno drugačno od praznega vodnjaka.


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