Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Hard-Boiled Curate's Egg?
on 25 November 2014
I was a little uncertain about this one and left it a couple of months before writing a review. Murakami's prose is always fluent and readable, regardless of the translator. If you're not already a fan however, I wouldn't recommend this book as an entry point.
As you've probably read elsewhere there are 2 narratives here side-by-side. One is the story of a data analyst in what is either an alternate or near-future Japan that starts out quite grounded and becomes more fantastic as it progresses, the other starts off as a fantasy story and follows the reverse trend of becoming more "realistic" as the hero learns more about his surroundings.
There are some brilliant concepts at work in both strands, from the "real" history of unicorns, to people detaching and living separately from their own shadows, HBW&TEOTW is never boring. It is a bit frustrating though, the central device that eventually links the two stories felt a bit shabby to me and I didn't really buy into it. One character, a supposedly genius professor, is afflicted all the way through with a bizarre redneck accent for reasons that both escaped and irritated me. Promising ideas gestate and are then quickly abandoned (the INKlings?) and this novel quite possibly has more descriptions of the preparation and consumption of food than any other by the author (and that's saying something).
Bit of a mixed bag then for me, there's certainly plenty to enjoy in Murakami's diversions and philosophical musings and many pleasingly odd set-pieces, I think it's far from the author's best work, but others may disagree!