Saturday, July 15, 2006

The Comfort of Familiarity

#22 (special Claude Lemieux book) - "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" by Haruki Murakami (re-read)

With all the books that I haven't read gathering dust on the shelves, what in the hell am I doing reading books that I've already read? Well, after GBV, I needed something good and quick, and Murakami's an old favorite -- one of those that could possibly lay claim to the title of "Greg's favorite author."

I first read this probably six or seven years ago -- my friend Mary (DC) had touted it forever. Like just about all her recommendations, it was great. Two stories, running parallel -- one in a fast-moving modern Tokyo, one in a slow, dreamy Kafkaesque village.

Detailing much of the plot is problematic -- the two stories intertwine, and part of the fun is watching the structure gradually reveal itself. The Tokyo portion is set in a world of information and data espionage; the village, meanwhile, is welcoming a new resident.

Like most of Murakami's protagonists, the narrator(s) is/are quiet, quirky loners, given to extended meditations on things like sofas and paper clips. Murakami may be better than anyone I've read at exploring loneliness as well as the need for solitude.

This isn't HM's best book, but it may be my favorite -- and after the struggle with Powers, I really needed to come home to this. It's great. ICJ, if you're out there, you should definitely give this (and a few of his other novels) a read. (well, so should the rest of you.)

Couple links:

Official site
Swiss fan site
Salon interview
Hackwriters profile

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