Discover Haruki Murakami’s first two novels.
‘If you’re the sort of guy who raids the refrigerators of silent kitchens at three o’clock in the morning, you can only write accordingly.
That’s who I am.’
Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 are Haruki Murakami’s earliest novels. They follow the fortunes of the narrator and his friend, known only by his nickname, the Rat. In Hear the Wind Sing the narrator is home from college on his summer break. He spends his time drinking beer and smoking in J’s Bar with the Rat, listening to the radio, thinking about writing and the women he has slept with, and pursuing a relationship with a girl with nine fingers.
Three years later, in Pinball, 1973, he has moved to Tokyo to work as a translator and live with indistinguishable twin girls, but the Rat has remained behind, despite his efforts to leave both the town and his girlfriend. The narrator finds himself haunted by memories of his own doomed relationship but also, more bizarrely, by his short-lived obsession with playing pinball in J’s Bar. This sends him on a quest to find the exact model of pinball machine he had enjoyed playing years earlier: the three-flipper Spaceship.
‘There’s no such thing as a perfect piece of writing. Just as there’s no such thing as perfect despair’.1 (HEAR THE WIND SING)
(@vintagebooks, 4 August 2015, ebook, 258 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)
HEAR THE WIND SING: I really enjoyed this book. It’s not quite as good as the author’s later fiction but I can see his distractive style and narrative voice start to develop. A lot of the themes explored in later books come into play here. I really liked the character Rat, where the hell did he get such a nickname? This is an easy, meandering read with moments of light and dark. I really enjoyed it. I look forward to reading the narrator’s next adventure.
PINBALL, 1973: I enjoyed this a bit more than Hear the Wind Sing. It features the same characters and is set a few years later. The style and subject matter is a bit more like I’ve come to expect from Murakami. I still have no clue how Rat came to be known as such. Oh well, not all mysteries are solved. I really enjoyed the surreal moments in the book and dream-like atmosphere which ran all the way through. It reminds me a lot of After Dark.