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review 2017-01-17 16:09
Wind/Pinball: Two Novels by Haruki Murakami; Translated by Ted Goossen
Wind/Pinball: Two novels - Ted Goossen,Haruki Murakami

Being a lover of Japanese literature, and books in general, I've always wanted to give Haruki Murakami's books a try. I've heard nothing but praise for his works so I thought I should give all his works a read. This is a bit of a personal project I've bestowed upon myself: To read at least one Murakami book a month. And, I thought, what better way to start than from the two first novels he's ever written! Well, I have to say that we are not off to a good start.

 

Hear the Wind Sing is his very first novel and it shows. Nothing much happens in this book. It's about an unnamed narrator and his best friend, the Rat, and what they do during a summer the narrator has off from college. But really, all they do is spend it drinking at a bar, talking about women, and that's pretty much it. The narrator has a relationship with a woman who only has nine fingers and their dynamic was... bizarre. I didn't see how that woman found the narrator interesting or how she developed feelings for him. I say this because at the beginning of the book, she detested him. Then, almost over night, she starts to fancy him... what? Why? What did he do in order for her to toss her disdain for him out the window? It made no sense to me. On top of the unbelievable relationship, I was just bored reading it. Nothing really happens in the book. Just a bunch of guys drinking in a bar. I was waiting for something else to happen. Something more interesting. I thought it would happen with the relationship aspect of the book. But no. Nothing. The writing in this first book was also dull. There was no life to it. Basically, Murakami's first novel just wasn't for me.

 

The second novel, Pinball, 1973, was a bit better but not by much. This book takes place several years after the first. The unnamed narrator works for a translation business whilst his friend, the Rat, goes through his own problems with trying to find himself and understand what he wants to do with his life. I'll admit, I liked that aspect of the book quite a bit. At some point in our lives, we all start questioning what we want to do. Who we are. What shall become of us if we don't do something worthwhile. And being able to read and see that side of the Rat was pretty interesting. Also, the writing was a lot more lyrical. There were still plenty of dull patches here and there, but I can tell that Murakami was finding his style a lot more here. So his writing improved a bit! And the translator, Ted Goossen, did a fantastic job in portraying Murakami's meaning well! But that's where my praises end, sadly. The narrator was still so bland that I was still bored when reading about him and his obsession with pinball. Also, there were these twins that intrigued me. I wanted to learn more about them. Like where they came from and what was their purpose for moving in with the main character. But I got none of that. Their sole purpose was to make coffee and have sex with the narrator. That's it. In fact, that's all the women of this book did! The secretary at the translation office only cooked food and cleaned. That's it. The twins made food and had sex. That's it. I knew going in that Murakami tends to be a bit sexist in his novels, but it's so apparent in these two books! So even though I enjoyed this book more... it still wasn't enough to make me fall in love with Murakami as a writer.

 

Now, these are just his first two novels. You can tell they are early works and I know it's his later works that are highly praised so I'm not judging him too harshly. These two weren't for me but I shall continue reading his works to see if he's an author that I will enjoy. I still have hope so in February, I will be reading A Wild Sheep Chase and see how I get on with that one. Hopefully I enjoy it a lot more than his first two novels.

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review 2016-09-05 22:27
one of Murakami's weakest works
The Strange Library - Ted Goossen,Haruki Murakami

This was confusing, not so much in 'oh, wait, what happened?'   No, this was confusing as in 'why?   Why did that all happen?'

 

The last page is especially dreary, depressing, and confusing.   I was drawn to this book due to the use of illustrations, and the fact that I tend to love this author's work.   I figured it was great for the magical realism slot in Halloween bingo!

 

The best I can say about this is that it was short.   And well written.  I mean, technically, all the sentences were fine.   It was smooth, an easy read, but I just really was left floundering in trying to discover the point of it all  at the end. 

 

Sadly, I gave this to my father for a trip, I believe, and he warned me it wasn't great.  Still, I figured, maybe I'd like it?

 

Nope.   I did not.   Still, I have two bingo squares, so yay me?

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review 2016-01-29 19:42
Stay away from library basements
The Strange Library - Ted Goossen,Haruki Murakami

My mom insists it was cheating that I picked up this book. That's because I partial did it because I knew it was short and I was starting to get behind in my book goal. But I'm still counting it. I've heard a lot about Murakami in my years of being a bookseller, most of it good, some of it not, but that's the way with most everything. 

 

The title pretty accurately and succinctly sums up the nature of the book. A young boy ends up stuck in a very strange library. As I was reading, I thought it seemed a bit counterproductive for an author to write a book that might terrify children from going to the library. Not that the book is really intended for children, but I could see younger people picking it up. 

 

That's not to say I didn't like it. I rather did like it. This is my kind of 'scary' book. It's a bit twisted, a bit off-kilter, and elegantly simple in its delivery. This particular Murakami story reminded me of Gaiman. It had that feel of a modern fairytale to it. Something ordinary is suddenly made slightly more fantastical by the author's imagination. 

 

Not to say all books need some kind of moral or lesson for the reader to take away, but this is one of those books that I don't think really has one. And that's not a bad thing. Reading was purely experiential. A friend of mine who read it compared it to a dreamlike state, which I can see. The reader slips into unconsciousness as they follow the protagonist into the depths of the library and they reawaken at the end when he escapes. 

 

~Ren

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review 2016-01-23 06:07
The Strange Library is strange
The Strange Library - Ted Goossen,Haruki Murakami

The Strange Library -- Haruki Murakami

 

 

If there was an underlying meaning to the short story portrayed about a boy getting lost in the weird underground labyrinthine horror of a common city library where old men eat brains full of knowledge, sheep men get thrown into a jar with caterpillars as punishment, and a mysterious, voiceless girl appears from nowhere... I likely didn't catch it.

Oh yes, also some things to do with a starling and leather shoes.

I've never read a Haruki Murakami book before, and this book, even though it is akin to a childrens' picture book, is very much outside of my comfort genre. It's just that, between the title, the cover illustration, and the unique summary, I couldn't help but be curious. And then, when I picked up the book, it was also an interestingly strange format that I hadn't expected--a neat way to illustrate the story of The Strange Library, that's for sure.

 

 

Anyway, strange book is strange, but unique and interesting nonetheless. I'm just not sure I really understood what was going on here, though it DOES remind me vaguely of some of those Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark type books I've read before as a child.

***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge -- New to Me Author #3

 

 

 

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text 2015-08-31 14:42
August Purchases
Wind/Pinball: Two novels - Ted Goossen,Haruki Murakami
Royal Assassin - Robin Hobb

A slow month purchasing wise as well. Sometimes, that is a good thing.

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