Monday, 31 August 2015

"Wind/Pinball" by Haruki Murakami | Book Review

"Wind/Pinball" by Haruki Murakami
Out of print for almost 30 years, Haruki Murakami's debut novels, Hear the Wind Sing (1979) and Pinball, 1973 (1980) have been newly translated, and are now widely available as Wind/Pinball.

In these stories, we follow an unnamed narrator and his friend, the Rat, as they move through their lives contemplating their loneliness, the purpose of writing, the wonders of pinball, and much more.

Part of what I find interesting about Wind/Pinball, but particularly the first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, is that not much happens. Really, the narrator goes to the bar a lot and talks to his friend the Rat and J, the owner of the bar. By chance, he meets the (never named) girl with nine fingers there and they begin their acquaintance albeit with a rocky start, but then their encounters and discussions result in fascinating and meaningful conversations.

The writing was absolutely beautiful and I found myself enveloped in some of the scenes, especially the more surreal ones. The dialogue is thought-provoking, while also giving us a deep look into the incredibly memorable characters, and enhances the feeling of nostalgia that's present in both novels. I also love that Murakami included so many musical references - it made for such a nice soundtrack while I read and in a way, put me into the characters' frame of mind.

One of the most fascinating things I found in this book was the lack of names. Sure, we get the names of a few characters, but for me, it was the ones whose names I never learned - especially the girl with nine fingers and the twins - that have really stuck with me. It's an interesting example of the fact that we don't need to know someone's name to identify with them or have them make an impact on us.

This was my first venture into Murakami's writing and so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but I found his writing beautiful. As I said, there wasn't much action so if you're looking for something that's just fast-paced, look elsewhere. But if you want to think, this is a great book to get lost in. From what I've read on Goodreads, Wind/Pinball shows hints of the highly acclaimed author Murakami would become. Based on that and high praise for him from one of my best friends, I'm looking forward to reading more of his work.

Wind/Pinball is now available at Indigo.

*This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review.

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