I have never read anything by Haruki Murakami (known for Kafka on the Shore and Norwegian Wood), until a friend of mine gave me one of his books a couple of weeks ago. She saw the blurb saying: “the world of the trench-coated detective and cyberpunk sci-fi”, and thought about me. It was lovely of her. That was how a copy of The Hardboiled Wonderland and The End of the World came into my possession.
The book has two storylines that alternate with each chapter: the “hard-boiled” one and “The End of the World” one. The first involves a guy, who is a Calcutec, a man able to encrypt data by passing it through his brain. He gets called in to do a job, to “shuffle” some highly important data, and finds himself in heaps of trouble. The second story takes place in a town called The End of the World surrounded by an impregnable wall, where the inhabitants have to have their shadows cut away from them, before they are allowed to enter. It’s a strange town without pain or suffering, fighting or greed, but also no love or happiness, no song. There’s also a herd of unicorns. I won’t say any more about the plot, as I would spoil it for you.
I am biased when it comes to anything related to Portugal. Food? Oh yes, please. Weather? Beats UK every time. Wine? Do I even need to answer that? I even find the language, which a lot of people consider to be harsh and hissing, beautiful. When several years ago I discovered Fernando Pessoa, a Portuguese poet who lived in first third of the 20th century, it was love at first sentence. He wrote wonderfully depressing things like: “I made the journey, bought the useless, found the indefinite,/ And my heart is the same as it was: a sky and a desert.” Isn’t he an excellent word-smith?
Pessoa also had a very interesting writing quirk: I call it literary schizophrenia.
After avoiding the crime section in bookshops for years, the fact that I love whodunnits came as a bit of a surprise. In fact, it was so unexpected that I simply had to tell everyone about it. A blog seemed appropriate – there’s plenty of space to ramble, and it makes a sinister implication that this is not a one-time occurrence. There will probably be more. Flexing fingers is good for a person.
I always thought crime fiction wasn’t really for me. Of course I read all Sherlock Holmes years ago, but that’s classics, right? If I think of any current writers, I don’t believe I’ve read a single one. Stieg Larsson? Nope. P.D. James? Nope. And to be honest, to keep going I have to google who the best-selling crime writers are. It’s not my thing. It’s too real. I watched the Swedish film adaptation of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo and couldn’t help thinking it was incredibly depressing. It’s sort of similar to my decision of not reading news, because it usually makes me angry, sad, powerless, and disappointed with human beings.