Murakami weaves two very different storylines together. “Hard-Boiled Wonderland” is set in a realistic Tokyo, while “The End Of The World” is in a dream-like place with magical elements. Yet they are connected brilliantly through two intriguing plots.
This is my third Murakami and also my favorite one so far. It didn’t wow me, but it was a pretty decent read. Actually, I pretty much hated Murakami until I read this. All the male protogonists were egoistical, and oh-so-sophisticated in a “oh look at me I am well read and listen to jazz and classical music” sort of way. It was very annoying. And the women – very mysterious and cold and – ugh. I hate that sort of thing.
Really though sometimes it was even disgusting. Let me show you a part from “South of the Border, West of the Sun” and you’ll see what I mean.
“When I was your age I played around quite a bit. So I won’t tell you not to have affairs. It’s strange for me to be saying this to my daughter’s husband, but actually I think a fling or two on the side isn’t all bad. It refreshes you. Get it out of your system every once in a while and your home life will improve; you’ll be able to concentrate on work too. So if you were to sleep with other women, I for one wouldn’t say a word. Playing around’s all right by me, but be very careful in choosing your partners.”
I don’t know if it disgusts you too, but as a 21 year old girl reading that, I was pretty irritated with Murakami and his dumb male-to-male advice.
But with “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World” I wasn’t so annoyed. The characters were a lot more likeable, and the plot was very intriguing. I couldn’t put it down, even. And it wasn’t a fiasco like 1Q84 (a reason on it’s own to never want to read Murakami again). The plot was coherent, enough of the mysteries were resolved in the end, and the story did not drag on and on. (I’m looking at you 1Q84.)
So it took me three tries to warm up to Murakami. The only reason I kept reading Murakami was because my friends kept gifting me his books. Though I don’t hate him anymore, I think it’ll be a while before I get to the next one on my bookshelf – “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.”