Hard-boiled Wonderland and The End of The World

There is really something about reading a book on a quiet, rainy night while Bob Dylan plays in the background.

In short, I just finished my first Haruki Murakami book and I guess this begins another burden on my wallet as I want to read more of Haruki Murakami. I have thank/blame saturnine for his impromptu book recommendation the other day we met, although I’ve already been quite interested to read Haruki for a while.

On the book itself, I must say it was a really engaging read, but it was still simple enough that I could put the book away for a long time and come back to it without feeling lost. I think it’s the lack of proper names that made that possible. Referring everyone directly to their role in the story is actually makes the story stick to my memory easier. It’s also how I remember people in real life too. I almost never remember anyone’s proper names, but instead store them as nicknames/Internet handles/short descriptions.

One thing that really jumps out to me is how the End of the World portions eerily mirror the premise of Haibane Renmei closely that I couldn’t help draw parallels to it, even though I’m aware that the book was written 17 years before it was even conceived. Perhaps Yoshitoshi ABe was a big fan of Haruki too.

Hmm.. I wonder which title should I get next to read? Thinking of getting Norwegian Wood next since it’s in chronological order after Hard-boiled.

14 Comments

  1. baggle Said,

    November 27, 2008 @ 11:44 pm

    Norwegian Wood is an excellent read as well… my personal favorite is his Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

  2. Dakkar Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 12:05 am

    Well, usually people start reading Murakami from “A Wild Sheep Chase”, then you can go on to “Dance Dance Dance” sequel right away. Norwegian Wood is probably my least favorite of Murakami’s works. It’s good, but it was a bit too much when I was reading it, and this impression lingers even years after :)
    To tell the truth, I can’t really put some of his works above others, so simply read them all :D Well, “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle” might be a nice pick if you aren’t completely sure if it’s worth spending money on or not :)

    The first version of Haibane Renmei was completely different, but later edition and the series themselves do remind of The End of World. Resemblance is clear, yet it was definitely not a copy-paste. Probably, ABe was familiar with the book and decided to adopt a part of the concept, but the overall difference was so significant that I didn’t feel it to be a plagiarism…

  3. Michael Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 12:06 am

    I’m quite amused that you read something outside manga, what with your aversion to reading novels in general. ;)

    If you want a simple read, Norwegian Wood or Sputnik Sweetheart is a good choice. Both have an elegiac tone and reflect on lost or unrequited love.

    If you want to be challenged, you should go read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle. It’s Murakami’s thickest, and it’s the work recognized by most critics to be the best.

    Kafka on the Shore isn’t too bad as well.

  4. Dakkar Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 12:10 am

    Personally, I would suggest to read more of his works before taking on “Kafka on the shore”. Not that it’s a prerequisite, but should definitely help to get a grasp from the very beginning…

  5. catrophy Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 12:11 am

    i heart haruki murakami works so much. i spent a summer reading all his books. i need to read them again but iowe the library a 40 fine xD. i suppose i should buy the books.
    spring snow is good too, but i cant remember who the author is atm

  6. animekritik Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 12:51 am

    Honestly, I read Wonderland and loved it. Then I read the Sheep book and found it to be exactly the same thing. I was disappointed. Then I read a passage from another one of his books and it was still the same thing so I stopped. Too gimmicky for me.

  7. DiGiKerot Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 2:21 am

    I think Abe has already admitted the Murakami influence at some point.

    I started with Hardboiled Wonderland as well, though that was pre-Haibane. I have to admit finding it a little challengingly weird at the time, more-so than any of the other Murakami books I’ve read since – even including the fact that I read Dance Dance Dance before Wild Sheep by mistake ^^;

    I do think Norwegian Wood is a good pick-up for your second title, but then it’s probably my favourite of this books (though this could purely be due to the order in which I read them). That said, I do think maybe Wind-Up Bird might be worthwhile to read before you’ve worn yourself on Murakami, otherwise it’s length can make it a bit of a slog.

  8. r3dking Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 2:47 am

    Haibane Renmei was explicitly inspired by Murakami’s End of the World, so no surprise there.

    I’m going to give a different recommendation on Murakami reading. First try the short stories in _After the Quake_. Then pick up a copy of his most recent novel “Tokyo After Dark”. It’s more unabashedly surreal and oriented to visual images than the earlier novels. Shorter, too. It’d make a good anime :-)

  9. Mechafetish Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 8:36 am

    I agree with Dakkar. You should read “A Wild Sheep Chase” and “Dance Dance Dance”.

  10. j1m0ne Said,

    November 28, 2008 @ 9:55 am

    I started off reading The Elephant Vanishes (a collection of his short stories) before moving on to The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – like DigiKerot says, I would recommend reading that early on while you still thirst for Murakami.

    Having said that, Norwegian Wood is a good choice, it’s a bit lighter than his usual surrealistic style which for me was a welcome change after trudging through Wind-up Bird & Kafka on the Shore. I actually prefer Murakami’s short stories myself (the others are compiled in after the quake & Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman) as it’s less likely to induce a headache with its tiny doses of WTF-ness ;)

  11. schneider Said,

    November 29, 2008 @ 12:11 am

    >Honestly, I read Wonderland and loved it. Then I read the Sheep book and found it to be exactly the same thing. I was disappointed. Then I read a passage from another one of his books and it was still the same thing so I stopped. Too gimmicky for me.

    You’re not too far off. Middle-aged man, divorced, loves whiskey and jazz, introspective and fond of sex, blah blah blah. But I love the way Murakami writes and that’s what keeps me reading.

    Kafka on the Shore is quite different. At least the main character is a teen, and an awesome one at that.

    And Murakami’s short stories are pure genius. Toni Takitani broke my heart. :(

  12. ETERNAL Said,

    December 2, 2008 @ 9:37 am

    This post has sent me on an Amazon shopping spree, and I certainly hope that I won’t be disappointed.

  13. TheBigN Said,

    December 2, 2008 @ 9:33 pm

    I’ve only read Hard-Boiled and the Wind-Up Bird, and both are good novels, but I’d have to give the nod to the former due to execution and closure. :P

  14. chris Said,

    January 30, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

    | spring snow is good too, but i cant remember who the author is atm

    Spring Snow’s by Mishima. Very dense, very sensual. You really want to read the entire 4-book series for that one. It is, in fact, very good.

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