Deeper in Reading Haruki Murakami’s “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of The World”

“Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of The World” is a 1985 novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. The English translation by Alfred Birnbaum was released in 1991, (Wikipedia).

Once again, Ronald Susilo, a great book lover from my hometown Ruteng – Flores, writes us his thought after reading Haruki Murakami’s novel. In this note, Ronald tells us how this Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of The World is finally understood on his ‘fourth time reading’.

deeper in reading haruki murakamis hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of The World, Haruki Murakami | Image: Ist

Deeper in Reading Haruki Murakami’s “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of The World” 

By: M. Ronald Susilo

Reading a novel is like to talk to someone in intimacy way of communication. In novel we talk to author and actors with all circumstances or situation they have. From the stories of novel I actively find out what is this novel talks about or what is the author’s idea and feeling about something important or problem that he or she struggles with.

When I read, I want to find out who is the actors in that story, how about his or her age, what circumstances of family, culture and social life do the actors be influenced. If there is another actor in that story, how the actors interact with others and how they solve the problems in their entire life. In my opinion this is the very important part of reading.

Reading a novel is to feel what other people’s feelings. What other people wants to say about the life of world, nation, country, family and individual aspect. To get this, we must read carefully and we must know how to read pro-active and read it in smart way.

In my experience after read this novel, I make a conclusion that as a reader we must have a smart way to conquer a novel. I mean, we must have some principles how to read a novel effectively and efficiency in personal way. 

These principles can be varying to others reader. Before I write some smart way–my own way–to conquer a novel, I want to share with you about my experienced with this novel.

I read this book four times. Not because of this is a very interesting novel but because I can not understand about the story. When I read this novel for the first time, I feel that my English vocabulary is so poor because I can not understand at all. For the second time when I read half of this novel (this novel has 400 pages) I feel bored. I don’t know why this feeling comes to me.

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After that, to find a second opinion for this novel, I’m searching. May be there are some blogs talk about this novel. There it is. Now I know that this novel consists of two parallel story. One is“Hard-Boiled wonderland”, second is “The End of the World”. This two stories separate in the odd and the even numbered chapter. The odd numbered chapter for “Hard-Boiled wonderland” and the even numbered is “The End of the World”.

Oh my God. I am very stupid for this tme. Thus, I try to find out what is the signal about these two stories that Murakami shows in this novel. One more time, there it is. In the contents of this novel, chapter one is Elevator, Silence, Overweight. Chapter two is Golden Beasts. Chapter three is Rain Gear, INKlings, Laundry. Chapter four is The Library. You see, that every odd numbered chapter the title of the chapter consists of three words, but in even numbered chapter consists of one words. What a genius author.

When I read it in the third times I choose to read only the odd chapter to get complete idea of “Hard-Boiled wonderland”. The last time I choose to read the even chapter about “The End of the World”. After that I know that this novel is very futuristic in that time. Murakami writes this novel in 1985.
Can you imagine the period of time this novel birth? I think Murakami try something new in that era and most of people will say: “What novel it is? It is very strange. Who writes this? Are the author crazy to choose this way of writing? Will you happy to read this?”

Now, I want to tell you some a smart way about how to read a novel. But this is mine. Yours is (or, can be) different. Before you read a novel, try to find out the big pictures of that novel. Read a synopsis at back of the novel, read all of praise or something like that in the front, back or inside the novel, what others opinion about that novel.

After that you must search the contents of that novel if there are. If not try to look rapidly all of the chapter’s title, if the title of chapter does not exist then you must read all of first sentence each chapter. 

This is first smart way to read a novel. This way can make us understand about the framework of that novel.

When I am reading a novel, I always use a pencils to mark all of the interesting thing in the entire novel. Do not forget to use a single paper to mark pages that we have read. I usually use postcard to it. After that, the core process is read the entire novel.

If the reading process finished, I always write something about that novel (min. 1000 characters). Why? Because this is important thing in growth of our capability and responsibility as a reader. When we rewrite or give the opinion in writing about the novel that we have read we understand better about the story or something else in the novel. We can argue with the author or actor in our writing.

But, for me, write a review for all of the novel I have read is to remind me that I have already finished this novel. That is my responsibility as a reader. In my opinion: author has a responsibility to create a good novel and the reader has a responsibility to responses that novel by creating a good review, in writing too. That is the good relationship among author and the reader.

But, after you read the novel and you do not understand at all, like I have experienced on this novel, do not hesitate to ask uncle google about that novel. I am sure you will get the answers.

Click here to find out Jeff Goin’s Way of Creative Writing!

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What about the story of this novel? Well, I almost forget to tell about this novel itself. Like I said before, this novel consists of two parallel story. In “Hard-Boiled wonderland”, the narrator is a calcutec (terms created by Murakami): human data processor or encryption system who use his subconscious as an encryption key. Calcutec works for governmental system and protect data from semiotec who struggles to steal the data from government.

“The End of The World”, talk about one man (newcomer) comes to the strange and isolated town (the end of the world). His shadow has been cut off and his shadow live in the shadows grounds. The newcomer is a dreamreader who read a dream from the skull of unicorns.

Are the two stories separate individually or interconnected each other? This is difficult question. I think, these two story is stand alone individually. Only some signs that used by Murakami in these stories are the same. I can say that: skull of unicorns, the librarian and the phrase “the end of the world” emerge in two stories.

If we talk about the story, this two stories are independent; can be read separately. As an additional, while I searching and reading in the google, it was saying that: “This town (the town in “The End of the World”) is the world inside of the narrator from the Hard-Boiled wonderland’s subconscious”.

I can not agree or disagree with this idea because I still not get another data in this novel about that statement. May be you as a reader will read this novel and want to comment that statement in the future? I hope so.

Kupang, October 8, 2017, T-More hotel, 10.47

M. Ronald Susilo
Dokter Ronald lives in this great city of coffee, rain, and us, called Ruteng.

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