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Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

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Published by Vintage on 1993-03-31
Paperback: £12.03
FICTION / Fantasy, HUMOR, FICTION / Literary


Coming this October: Killing Commendatore, the much-anticipated new novel from Haruki Murakami

Hyperkinetic and relentlessly inventive, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is Haruki Murakami’s deep dive into the very nature of consciousness.

Across two parallel narratives, Murakami draws readers into a mind-bending universe in which Lauren Bacall, Bob Dylan, a split-brained data processor, a deranged scientist, his shockingly undemure granddaughter, and various thugs, librarians, and subterranean monsters collide to dazzling effect. What emerges is a novel that is at once hilariously funny and a deeply serious meditation on the nature and uses of the mind.


(Paperback (Reprint, Translation), 1993-03-31)
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ASIN: 0679743464
ISBN: 9780679743460
EAN: 9780679743460

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Acclaim for HARUKI MURAKAMI'S HARD BOILED WONDERLAND and the End of the World Fantastical mysterious and funny a fantasy world that might have been penned by Franz Kafka —Philadelphia Inquirer Rich in action suspense odd characters and unexpected trifles [a] provocative work —The Atlantic Murakami's gift is for ironic observations that hint at some thing graver He is wry absurd and desolate —Los Angeles Times Book Review [A] mix of American fun and Japanese dread —Esquire An intertwining DNA model of seemingly contrary ele ments a combination of Kafka's castle Borges's library and the Prisoner's TV village —Village Voice Literary Supplement Off the wall hilariously bizarre splendid a remarkable book Alfred Birnbaum has captured the crazed surreal feel of Murakami's Japanese —The Times London His novels are set on fast forward raucous slangy irreverent —Details

BOOKS BY HARUKI MURAKAMI After the Quake Sputnik Sweetheart Underground The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche nonfiction South of the Border West of the Sun The Wind lJp Bird Chronicle Dance Dance Dance The Elephant Vanishes Norwegian Wood Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World A Wild Sheep Chase

HARUKI MURAKAMI HARD BOILED WONDERLAND and tfie ΊLncί of the ΊΨorCcC Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo He is the author of the novels Sputnik Sweetheart South of the Border West of the Sun The Wind Up Bird Chronicle Dance Dance Dance Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World Norwegian Wood and A Wild Sheep Chase and of two collections of stories The Elephant Vanishes and After the Quake He is also the author of the nonfiction work Underground The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche His work has been trans lated into sixteen languages ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR Alfred Birnbaum was born in 1957 and calls Tokyo his home American by passport he has lived in Japan since childhood He is translator of Haruki Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase as well

First Vintage International Edition March 1993 Copyright © 1991 by Kodansha International Ltd All rights reserved under International and Pan American Copyright Conventions Published in the United States by Vintage Books a division of Random House Inc New York and distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited Toronto Originally published in Japanese under the title Sekai no owari to hado boirudo wandάrando by Shinchosha Ltd This translation first published by Kodansha International Ltd and Kodansha America Inc in 1991 Translated and adapted by Alfred Birnbaum with the participation of the author The translator wishes to acknowledge the assistance of editor Elmer Luke Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Murakami Haruki 1949 [Sekai no owari to hado boirudo wandarando English] Hard boiled wonderland and the end of the world a novel Haruki Murakami translated by Alfred Birnbaum p cm ISBN 0 679 74346 4 pbk I Title PL856 U673S4513 1993 895 6'35—dc20 92 56345 CIP Manufactured in the United States of America 579C864

CONTENTS 1 Elevator Silence Overweight 2 Golden Beasts 3 Rain Gear iNKlings Laundry 4 The Library 5 Tabulations Evolution Sex Drive 6 Shadow 7 Skull Lauren Bacall Library 8 The Colonel 9 Appetite Disappointment Leningrad 10 The Wall 11 Dressing Watermelon Chaos 12 A Map of the End of the World 13 Frankfurt Door Independent Operants 14 Woods 15 Whiskey Torture Turgenev 16 The Coming of Winter 17 Endof theWorld Charlie Parker Time Bomb 18 Dreamreading 19 Hamburgers Skyline Deadline 20 The Death of the Beasts 1 12 18 37 44 58 66 83 89 106 111 117 124 143 152 167 174 182 186 199

21 Bracelets Ben Johnson Devil 204 22 Gray Smoke 222 23 Holes Leeches Tower 230 24 Shadow Grounds 242 25 Meal Elephant Factory Trap 250 26 Power Station 27S 27 Encyclopedia Wand Immortality Paperclips 282 28 Musical Instruments 291 29 Lake Masatomi Kondo Panty Hose 297 30 Hole 313 31 Fares Police Detergent 319 32 Shadow in the Throes of Death 330 33 Rainy Day Laundry Car Rental Bob Dylan 337 34 Skulls 347 35 Nail Clippers Butter Sauce Iron Vase 353 36 Accordion 366 37 Lights Introspection Cleanliness 371 38 Escape 379 39 Popcorn Lord Jim Extinction 387 40 Birds 397

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Elevator Silence Overweight THE elevator continued its impossibly slow ascent Or at least I imagined it was ascent There was no telling for sure it was so slow that all sense of direction simply vanished It could have been going down for all I knew or maybe it wasn't moving at all But let's just assume it was going up Merely a guess Maybe I'd gone up twelve stories then down three Maybe I'd circled the globe How would I know Every last thing about this elevator was worlds apart from the cheap die cut job in my apartment building scarcely one notch up the evolutionary scale from a well bucket You'd never believe the two pieces of machinery had the same name and the same purpose The two were pushing the outer limits conceivable as elevators First of all consider the space This elevator was so spa cious it could have served as an office Put in a desk add a

HARD BOILED WONDERLAND cabinet and a locker throw in a kitchenette and you'd still have room to spare You might even squeeze in three camels and a mid range palm tree while you were at it Second there was the cleanliness Antiseptic as a brand new coffin The walls and ceiling were absolutely spotless polished stainless steel the floor immaculately carpeted in a handsome moss green Third it was dead silent There wasn't a sound—liter ally not one sound—from the moment I stepped inside and the doors slid shut Deep rivers run quiet Another thing most of the gadgets an elevator is supposed to have were missing Where for example was the panel with all the buttons and switches No floor numbers to press no DOOR OPEN and DOOR CLOSE no EMERGENCY STOP Nothing whatsoever All of which made me feel utterly defenseless And it wasn't just no buttons it was no indica tion of advancing floor no posted capacity or warning not even a manufacturer's nameplate Forget about trying to locate an emergency exit Here I was sealed in No way this elevator could have gotten fire department approval There are norms for elevators after all Staring at these four blank stainless steel walls I recalled one of Houdini's great escapes I'd seen in a movie He's tied up in how many ropes and chains stuffed into a big trunk which is wound fast with another thick chain and sent hurtling the whole lot over Niagara Falls Or maybe it was an icy dip in the Arctic Ocean Given that I wasn't all tied up I was doing okay insofar as I wasn't clued in on the trick Houdini was one up on me Talk about not clued in I didn't even know if I was mov ing or standing still I ventured a cough but it didn't echo anything like a cough It seemed flat like clay thrown against a slick con crete wall I could hardly believe that dull thud issued from my own body I tried coughing one more time The result was the same So much for coughing I stood in that hermetically sealed vault for what seemed an eternity The doors showed no sign of ever opening Sta

tionary in unending silence a still life Man in Elevator I started to get nervous What if the machinery had mal functioned Or suppose the elevator operator—assuming there was one in the building—forgot I was here in this box People have lost track of me before I strained to hear something anything but no sound reached my ears I pressed my ear against the stainless steel wall Sure enough not a sound All I managed was to leave an outline of my ear on the cold metal The elevator was made apparently of a miracle alloy that absorbed all noise I tried whistling Danny Boy but it came out like a dog wheez ing with asthma There was little left to do but lean up against a wall and count the change in my pockets For someone in my profes sion knowing how to kill time is as important a method of training as gripping rubber balls is for a boxer Although in any strict sense it's not killing time at all For only through assiduous repetition is it possible to redistribute skewed ten dencies I always come prepared with pockets full of loose change In my right pocket I keep one hundred and five hundred yen coins in my left fifties and tens One yen and five yen coins I carry in a back pocket but as a rule these don't enter into the count What I do is thrust my hands simultaneously into both pockets the right hand tallying the hundreds and five hundreds in tandem with the left hand adding up the fifties and tens It's hard for those who've never attempted the procedure to grasp what it is to calculate this way and admittedly it is tricky at first The right brain and the left brain each keep separate tabs which are then brought together like two halves of a split watermelon No easy task until you get the hang of it Whether or not I really do put the right and left sides of my brain to separate accounts I honestly can't say A special ist in neurophysiology might have insights to offer on the matter I'm no neurophysiologist however All I know is that

HARD BOILED WONDERLAND when Γm actually in the midst of counting I feel like Γm using the right side and left side of my brain differently And when Γm through counting it seems the fatigue that sets in is qualitatively quite distinct from what comes with normal counting For convenience sake I think of it as right brain totals right pocket left brain totals left pocket On the whole I think of myself as one of those people who take a convenience sake view of prevailing world condi tions events existence in general Not that Γm such a blase convenience sake sort of guy—although I do have tendencies in that direction—but because more often than not I've observed that convenient approximations bring you closest to comprehending the true nature of things For instance supposing that the planet earth were not a sphere but a gigantic coffee table how much difference in everyday life would that make Granted this is a pretty far fetched example you can't rearrange facts of life so freely Still picturing the planet earth for convenience sake as a gigantic coffee table does in fact help clear away the clut ter—those practically pointless contingencies such as gravity and the international dateline and the equator those nagging details that arise from the spherical view I mean for a guy leading a perfectly ordinary existence how many times in the course of a lifetime would the equator be a significant factor But to return to the matter at hand—or rather hands the right and the left each going about its own separate busi ness—it is by no means easy to keep running parallel counts Even for me to get it down took the longest time But once you do once you've gotten the knack it's not something you lose Like riding a bike or swimming Which isn't to say you can't always use a little more practice Repetition can improve your technique and refine your style If for no other reason than this I always keep my hands busy This time I had three five hundred yen coins and eighteen hundreds in the one pocket and seven fifties and sixteen tens in the other Making a grand total of three thousand eight hundred ten yen Calculations like this are no trouble at all

Qoί m leasts tT A 7 I T H ^ e a PP r o a c h of autumn a layer of long % golden fur grows over their bodies Golden in the W w purest sense of the word with not the least intru sion of another hue Theirs is a gold that comes into this world as gold and exists in this world as gold Poised between all heaven and earth they stand steeped in gold When I first came to the Town—it was in the spring—the beasts had short fur of varying colors Black and sandy gray white and ruddy brown Some were a piebald of shadow and bright These beasts of every imaginable shade drifted quietly over the newly greening countryside as if wafted about on a breeze Almost meditative in their stillness their breathing hushed as morning mist they nibbled at the young grass with not a sound Then tiring of that they folded their legs under them to take a short rest Spring passed summer ended and just now as the light

Rain Gear ιιsικlings Laundry I WAS conducted into a big empty room The walls were a white the ceiling a white the carpet a mocha brown—all decorator colors Yes even in whites there are tasteful whites and there are crass whites shades that might as well not be white The opaque windows blocked all view to the world out side but the light that was filtering in could only be sunlight Which placed us somewhere above ground So the elevator had risen Knowing this put me at ease it was as I had imag ined after all The woman motioned for me to sit on the leather sofa in the center of the room I obliged and crossed my legs where upon she exited by a different door The room had very little furniture Before the sofa was a low coffee table set with a ceramic ashtray lighter and cigarette case I flipped open the cigarette case it was empty

The Library s I Ή E Town centers around a semicircular plaza * I directly north of the Old Bridge The other semi JLr circular fragment that is the lower half of the cir cle lies across the river to the south These two half circles are known as the North and South Plazas respectively Regarded as a pair the two can impress one only as complete opposites so unlike each other as they are The North Plaza is heavy with an air of mystery laden with the silence of the surrounding quarter whereas the South Plaza seems to lack any atmosphere at all What is one meant to feel here All is adrift in a vague sense of loss Here there are relatively fewer households than north of the Bridge The flowerbeds and cobblestones are not well kept In the middle of the North Plaza stands a large Clock tower piercing skyward To be precise one should say it is less a clocktower than an object retaining the form of a

Tabulations Evolution Sex Drive W HILE the old man went back above ground to rectify the sound removed state in which he'd left his granddaughter I plugged away in silence at my tab ulations How long the old man was gone I didn't really know I had my digital alarm clock set to an alternating one hour thirty minutes one hour thirty minutes cycle by which I worked and rested worked and rested The clock face was covered over so I couldn't read it Time gets in the way of tabulations Whatever the time was now it had no bearing on my work My work begins when I start tabulating and it ends when I stop The only time I need to know about is the one hour thirty minutes one hour thirty minutes cycle I must have rested two or three times during the old man's absence During these breaks I went to the toilet crossed my arms and put my face down on the desk and stretched out

Shadmv * I ''HE first old dream she places on the table is nothing I ψ I know as an old dream I stare at the object before J^r me then look up at her She stands next to me look ing down at it How is this an old dream The sound of the words old dream led me to expect something else—old writings perhaps something hazy amorphous Here we have an old dream says the Librarian Her voice is distant aimless her tone wants not so much to explain to me as to reconfirm for herself Or it is possible to say the old dream is inside of this I nod but do not understand Take it in your hands she prompts I pick it up and run my eyes over the surface to see if I can find some trace of an old dream But there is not a clue It is only the skull of an animal and not a very big animal Dry and brittle as if it had lain in the sun for years the bone

Skull Lauren Bacall Library O UTSIDE it was dark it was drizzling and the streets were filled with people going home from work It took forever to catch a cab Even under usual circumstances I have a hard time catch ing cabs By which I should explain that in order to avoid potentially dangerous situations I make a point of not taking the first two empty cabs that come my way The Semiotecs had fake taxis and you sometimes heard about them swoop ing off with a Calcutec who'd just finished a job Of course these might have been rumors since I don't know anyone it actually happened to Still you can't be too careful That's why I always take the subway or bus But this time I was so tired and drowsy that I couldn't face the prospect of cramming into a rush hour train I decided to take a taxi even if it took longer Once in the cab I nearly dozed off sev eral times and panicked to false alert As soon as I got home

Ίhe Colond DOUBT you can regain your shadow speaks the Colonel as he sips his coffee Like most persons accustomed to years of giving orders he speaks with his spine straight and his chin tucked in It is greatly to his credit that his long career in the military has not made him officious Rather it has bestowed an order to his life along with many decorations Exceed ingly quiet and thoughtful the Colonel is an ideal neighbor for me He is also a veteran chessplayer As the Gatekeeper warned you the old officer contin ues one of the conditions of this Town is that you cannot possess a shadow Another is that you cannot leave Not as long as the Wall surrounds the Town I did not know I would forfeit my shadow forever I say I thought it would be temporary No one told me about this

Appetite Disappointment Leningrad W HILE I waited for her I fixed supper I mashed an umeboshi salt plum with mortar and pestle to make a sour sweet dressing I fried up a few sardines with abura agέ tofu puffs in grated yama imo taro batter I sauteed a celery beef side dish Not a bad little meal There was time to spare so I had a beer as I tossed together some soy simmered myoga wild ginger and green beans with tofu sesame sauce After which I stretched out on my bed gazed at the ceiling and listened to old records The hour was well past seven and outside it was quite dark But still no sign of her Maybe she thought better of the whole proposition and decided not to come Could I blame her The reasonable thing would have been not to come Yet as I was choosing the next record the doorbell rang I checked through the fisheye lens and there stood the woman from the library with an armload of books I opened the door

10 ΊheWaCC O N an overcast afternoon I make my way down to the Gatehouse and find my shadow working with the Gatekeeper They have rolled a wagon into the clear ing replacing the old floorboards and sideboards The Gate keeper planes the planks and my shadow hammers them in place The shadow appears altogether unchanged from when we parted He is still physically well but his movements seem wrong Ill humored folds brew about his eyes As I draw near they pause in their labors to look up Well now what brings you here asks the Gatekeeper I must talk to you about something I say Wait till our next break says the Gatekeeper readdress ing himself to the half shaved board My shadow glances in my direction then resumes working He is furious with me I can tell

11 Dressing Watermelon Chaos T HE clock read half past nine when she got out of bed picked up her clothes from the floor and slowly leisurely put them on I stayed in bed sprawled out one elbow bent upright watching her every move out of the corner of my eye One piece of clothing at a time liltingly graceful not a motion wasted achingly quiet She zipped up her skirt did the buttons of her blouse from the top down lastly sat down on the bed to pull on her stockings Then she kissed me on the cheek Many are the women who can take their clothes off seductively but women who can charm as they dress Now completely composed she ran her hand through her long black hair All at once the room breathed new air Thanks for the food she said My pleasure Do you always cook like that

12 Map of the Έndofthe ΊtfσrCd s I J HE day after meeting my shadow I immediately set * I about making a map of the Town J^r At dusk I go to the top of the Western Hill to get a full perspective The Hill however is not high enough to afford me a panorama nor is my eyesight as it once was Hence the effort is not wholly successful I gain only the most general sense of the Town The Town is neither too big nor too small That is to say it is not so vast that it eclipses my powers of comprehension but neither is it so contained that the entire picture can be easily grasped This then is the sum total of what I discern from the summit of the Western Hill the heights of the Wall encompass the Town and the River transects it north and south The evening sky turns the River a leaden hue Presently the Town resounds with horn and hoof In order to determine the route of the Wall I will ulti

Ί3 Frankfurt Door Independent Operants A s always consciousness returned to me progressively from the edges of my field of vision The first things to claim recognition were the bathroom door emerging from the far right and a lamp from the far left from which my awareness gradually drifted inward like ice flowing to gether toward the middle of a lake In the exact center of my visual field was the alarm clock hands pointing to ten twenty six An alarm clock I received as a memento of some body's wedding One of those clever designs You had to press the red button on the left side of the clock and the black button on the right side simultaneously to stop it from ring ing which was said to preempt the reflex of killing the alarm and falling back to sleep True in order to press both left and right buttons simultaneously I did have to sit upright in bed with the thing in my lap and by then I had made a step into the waking world

Ί4 Woods N due time autumn too vanishes One morning I awake and from a glance at the sky I know winter is near Gone are the high sprightly autumn clouds in their place a heavy cloud bank glowers over the Northern Ridge like a messenger bearing ill tidings Autumn had been welcomed as a cheerful and comely visitor its stay was too brief its departure too abrupt The passing of autumn leaves a temporary blank an empty hole in the year that is not of a season at all The beasts begin to lose the sheen from their coats lose their golden hue bleaching slowly white It is an announcement that winter draws near All living things in the Town hang their heads their bodies braced for the freezing season Signs of winter shroud the Town like an invisible skin The sound of the wind the swaying of the grasses the clack of heels on the cobblestones in the still of night all grow

15 Whiskey Torture Turgenev B IG BOY didn't leave one bottle unbroken Not one lousy bottle of my collection of whiskeys I had a standing relationship with the neighborhood liquor dealer who would bring over any bargains in imported whiskey so it had gotten to be quite a respectable stash Not anymore The hulk started with two bottles of Wild Turkey mov ing next to one Cutty Sark and three I W Harpers then demolished two Jack Daniel's the Four Roses the Haig saving the half dozen bottles of Chivas Regal for last The racket was intense but the smell was worse Γm getting drunk just sitting here Junior said with admiration There wasn't much for me to do but plant my elbows on the table and watch the mound of broken glass pile up in the sink Big Boy whistled through it all I couldn't recog

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