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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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text 2015-10-22 11:33
Reading progress update: I've read 25%.
Pinball, 1973 - Haruki Murakami

I get the feeling that I won't enjoy this as much as I hoped. Maybe it is not the right book to listen to at 6.30 am....

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review 2012-12-31 00:00
Pinball, 1973 - Haruki Murakami, Alfred ... Pinball, 1973 - Haruki Murakami, Alfred Birnbaum 3.25 starsCompared to the other two of "The Rat" series from Murakami (I read [b:A Wild Sheep Chase|11298|A Wild Sheep Chase|Haruki Murakami|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327908774s/11298.jpg|2057170] in 2007 and then [b:Hear the Wind Sing|226973|Hear the Wind Sing|Haruki Murakami|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1209948233s/226973.jpg|2902423] last month), this one is not as engrossing. Yes, Murakami still write like a painter, so beautiful. However, about half-way, I lose interest with the "I" character. Especially when he starts talking about spaceship (not favorite subject of mine, I guess).The structure of two different perspectives between "I" and "The Rat" (Nezumi) also a bit distracting because there are times I only care for "I" but on other times, I truly want to read only about "The Rat" (especially when he has that conversation with the bartender, J).Like other stories of Murakami, this is basically a story without plot. It just flows along to whatever subjects that "I" or "The Rat" want to talk about to us readers ...
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review 2012-12-23 00:00
Pinball, 1973 (The Rat, #2)
1973年のピンボール (講談社英語文庫 (12)) - 村上 春樹;アルフレッド・バーンバウム;Alfred Birnbaum it's that tough review to write...

what do you think of a Great Writer's Early Work?

since novels in japan are published in Up and Down volumes, this is the Down (or Book 2) of Murakami's debut.

and traditionally, the Down is the better work.

of course; a novel's climax and resolution are the better examples of writing.

I am Clever for Pointing out Structural Details of Japanese I-Novels, ne?


we can say this is great because is presages otaku culture; pinball being an early variant of Nintendo being an early variant of Playstation 2. so otaku culture is predicted.

or we can say

early murakami contains the unhostile take towards third country people; chinese and koreans in Japan

or we can say

early "post modernist" work, split between anecdotes, bar stories, mixed up with the early "mystery / spirit world" take of Haruki Murakami...

but maybe the other reviews do a better job.


hard to find work!
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review 2010-08-14 00:00
1973年のピンボール (講談社英語文庫 (12)) - 村上 春樹;アルフレッド・バーンバウム;Alfred Birnbaum This was Haruki Murakami's second novel. It's a difficult book to find as the author has stated he is displeased with his first and second book and there is no current in-print English translation. It is unfortunate because ii is not a bad novel at all. It appears Murakami's "worst" novel is better than most writers' best novel. It can be called an immature work. It rambles and there is a struggle by Murakami to find a coherent whole. He is definitely a developing writer at this point. Yet the Murakami fan will find plenty to like. You can see his themes being explored and developed. You can also find those strange items that reoccur in most of Murakami's books: There is a well, cats and lots of jazz. Pinball, 1973 is a pleasant novel but one only for the seasoned Murakami reader who can appreciate experiencing the early development of this seminal Japanese author.
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