A difficult, challenging, and generally confusing collection of 3,000+ words–that is “Eight Acres.” The title and opening line prove to mislead the reader. Surprised by our being caught off-guard, we read on. The quick-to-read staccato dialogue encourages giving the story the benefit of the doubt, and before too long, we reach a full paragraph which acts as a barely legible legend to the story’s map and provides the basest of hopes that our travels will end safely. As we hit the first set of asterisks, we’re certain about only two things. It is war. The characters are pilots. We also are given a big clue that this Mugwump is attempting a post-modern writing style. This means that as we enter a WWII veteran named Jerry’s basement, we don’t get stuck on the question “Why?”, we simply read on.
The writing is decent enough that our curiosity begs us to give the story a chance. Continuing on, as the story jumps around, we quickly warm to the idea that, like building a jigsaw puzzle, we won’t see the picture until the end–at least that’s our hope.
As “Eight Acres” settles in, a distinct, though unconventional, picture begins to emerge. The picture gains even more clarity with the use of sparsely placed details which arrive just in time to prevent our motivation from completely diminishing.
In the end, “Eight Acres” is not light reading. It cannot be read quickly, and it does not hold the reader’s hand. But there is definitely a theme, and it is definitely one a child won’t understand. The question is will an adult?
Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World continues the post-modernistic tradition that aware readers have come to love. Upon completing the second chapter, it is clear that something different, something unfamiliar is occurring. The story is rife with metaphors and characters that work enough to keep us engaged, but it is really the storytelling’s style itself that causes our fingers to seek an instantaneous transition from one page to the next.
The story’s feint is that it’s about a detective. Of course, no tale worth its salt is ever about what it portends. Some authors make their points directly. For Murakami, who convincingly communicates that he is well-read, however, it is simply no longer interesting to tell the reader what to think.
As with other post-modern and fabulistic works, this book is a reaction. It is a plea to cause readers to never forget that no one should be taken for granted. In using these artistic movements, Murakami firmly plants his feet and announces to the world that he is not to be trifled with.
In the end, there is certainly nothing new under the sun. Yet Murakami has found a way to take his readers on a journey that is fun, difficult to predict, challenging and finally, rewarding. If you’ve been in a reading rut and need a book to shake things up, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that you can’t put this one down.
Murakami, Haruki. Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World: A Novel. New York: Vintage, 1991. Print.