Author: Haruki Murakami, Alfred Birnbaum (Translator)
Book: Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the Word
Genre: Science Fiction
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the Word tracks one man’s descent into an almost cyber-punkish underworld in modern Tokyo. Told in the first person, the story gives no names. The point-of-view character is called to “shuffle” data for an old scientist and his granddaughter. After he receives a gift of a unicorn’s skull, he notices people following him.
The novel also tracks a parallel story of a man who enters into a walled town but must leave his shadow behind. He becomes a dream reader, reading dreams from unicorns’ skulls. When it becomes clear his shadow is getting weak, he must find a way out of the town or literally lose his mind.
Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the Word seems to fit the definition of stream of consciousness. While it contained clever ideas and concepts, the author’s style focuses on interior monologue and exposition. Haruki Murakami tells rather than shows. This made for a very “dense” book that was hard to get through. How the parallel paths were interconnected did not become clear until more than halfway into the book.
I’ve said before, I’m not a fan of stream of consciousness as a literary device. Others who may enjoy that style might enjoy the book more. I don’t like to give spoilers, but I will say the ending was not satisfying.