Hear The Wind Sing and Pinball by Haruki Murakami

I picked up this book because it was buy one get one free and had a fun cover, obviously the only reason books are bought. In fact, the cover is sort of 3d and I got old school style 3d glasses.

The title on the front is just Wind Pinball, so it was a bit of a surprise when I found that it was actually two books in one. Although they are both quite short, totalling 314 pages together.  They are Murakami’s first novels and they sort of sit together. The first, ‘Hear The Wind Sing’ is from 1979 and the second, ‘Pinball’, from 1980 in Japan, althought it seems that they were first published in the UK in 2015.

P1030427The Rat’s novel had two good things about it. First, there were no sex scenes; second, no one died.  Guys don’t need any encouragement- left to themeselves, they still die and sleep girls.  That’s just the way it is.

Both stories are mostly internal monologue, some dialogue, but not much action.  The characters all seem to be suffering from some kind of malaise as they question where their lives are going.  Most of the characters are not named, including the protagonists making it hard to tell if they were supposed to be the same person.

In ‘Hear The Wind Sing’, our protagonist is a biology student, is best friends with the wealthy but disillutioned ‘Rat’, and they frequent J’s bar.  It’s set over a period of 18 days in 1970, but his mind wanders backwards and forwards a little bit through his memories.  He encounters an unhappy woman, passed out in the bar and takes her home, and muses on his few previous relationships, none of which seem to have ended well.  The Rat has dropped out if university for reasons never really divulged, and talks about becoming a writer.  He almost introduces our protagonist to a woman he is involved with but nothing comes of that.

Winds change direction.
You really think so?
If you wait long enough, yes.Pinball

‘Pinball’ is set in 1973, so not long after the other one and our protagonist here is 24 and having something of a quarter life crisis.  He’s working at a successful translation firm, and living and sleeping with two twins, but is somehow unfulfilled.  He begins to remember a period in his life when he became obsessed with a three flipper Pinball called Spaceship, and tracks one down.  He seems to be friends with Rat, who is suffering his own listlessness, but it isn’t quite the same relationship as in the first book. They still go to J’s bar but mainly independantly in this story.

I know the following brief epilogue will seem trivial, of no greater consequence than a clothesline in the rain.

So maybe it’s the same guy and the stories don’t quite join up, or it’s a different guy that just isn’t mentioned in the first story…I managed to get through this in a day, it was a very accessible read, with a bit of that Japanesiness that I like right now.  So I liked both stories, they didn’t feel like two separate novels, and I’m not sure for how long I’ll remember either of them.  But I would like to read some of his more contemporary books.