I’m currently about half-way through Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, and seriously loving it. It’s like an American-pop-culture-loving Japanese Kafka wrote a hard-boiled (amateur) detective novel. The book alternates between the Hard Boiled sections and the World’s End narratives. But whereas the Hard Boiled sections have a humorous (though bizarre) note, the End of the World sections are sad, beautiful, strange—almost as if you’re dreaming them rather than reading. Here, I thought I would share one of the passages from the End narrative.
“Is this a skull of one of the Town unicorns?” I ask her.
“Yes. The old dream is sealed inside.”
“I am to read an old dream from this?”
“That is the work of the Dreamreader,” says the Librarian.
“And what do I do with the dreams I read?”
“Nothing. You have only to read them.”
“How can that be?” I say. “I know that I am to read an old dream from this. But then not to do anything with it, I do not understand. What can be the point of that? Work should have a purpose.”
She shakes her head. “I cannot explain. Perhaps the dreamreading will tell you. I can only show you how it is done.”
I set the skull down on the table and lean back to look at it. The skull is enveloped in a profound silence that seems nothingness itself. The silence does not reside on the surface, but is held like smoke within. It is unfathomable, eternal, a disembodied vision cast up on a point in the void.
There is a sadness about it, an inherent pathos. I have no words for it.
“Please show me,” I say. I pick the skull up from the table once again and feel its weight in my hands.
Smiling faintly, she takes the skull from me and painstakingly wipes off the dust. She returns a whiter skull to the table.
“This is how to read old dreams,” the Librarian begins.