Week 11 and 12: Hear the Wind Sing/ Pinball by Haruki Murakami

So I cheated a little with this one. These two stories are sequential and run for less than a 150 pages each. What’s worse is I read them in a compiled edition and took only a couple of days to finish them both together. But because I was d

ying under the unbearable weight of a mid-semester life crisis, I will be counting them as two separate books. And because I don’t want the length of my review to overshot the length of the book (Well, actually its just that I am incredibly lazy) I will only be writing one review for the pair of them.

Haruki Murakami is a contemporary Japanese writer known for his surreal and melancholy literary style heavily influenced by Western writing. Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball are his first two books, which unlike the rest of his work is quite obscure and difficult to find. So right off the bat, these books probably aren’t the greatest way to start reading Murakami’s work.

In Hear the Wind Sing we are introduced to our protagonist without any ever learning his name. In a 130 page long book that almost reads like an autobiography, our protagonist gets all nostalgic about his past years while wondering about the meaning of life and reminiscing about each of his sexual partners. We also meet Rat, one of his close friends who is unbearably depressed and J an enigmatic bartender . Pinball is set a few years later and is centered around the same guy. And yes, still no mention of his name. He sets up a pretty successful translation company and lives with twins who he just can’t tell apart. The Rat features in this book as well, morose about a woman and J appears too, as enigmatic as ever. In this book, our protagonist is obsessed with Pinball, and sets out on a quest to find the “three-flapper Spaceship”, an obscure Pinball machine he particularly loved.

Neither of the stories had a very strong (read, any) plot to boast of. They were instead a mixture of rambling emotions, profound introspection about the universe and sporadic incidents from the lives of our protagnist, the Rat and J. I really enjoyed reading Hear the Wind Sing. The writing was fresh and something that I had never encountered before. The narrative was engaging and I couldn’t put it down for a second. However, I found Pinball a little stale. It had the same themes as Hear the Wind Sing but it played out in a different background. The plot didn’t have much

to offer and the writing just wasn’t as engaging. Maybe its charm got lost in translation. Or maybe its similarity to Hear the Wind Sing made it repetitive and little difficult to get through.

I still haven’t decided whether Murakami’s style really appeals me. Maybe I should read his more popular books before I deliver my judgement. As for these books, I would recommend Hear the Wind Sing but would suggest you give Pinball a pass.

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