Review: Wind / Pinball

Wind / Pinball

Wind / Pinball
By Haruki Murakami, Translated by Ted Goossen
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780385352123, August 4, 2015, 256pp.)

The Short of It:

Mesmerizing.

The Rest of It:

You all know how I love Murakami, right? Well, when I got a review copy of Wind / Pinball, I nearly fainted. Why? Because Hear the Wind Sing was Murakami’s very first novel and Pinball, 1973 was his second. Along with A Wild Sheep Chase, they form what is known as The Trilogy of The Rat.

Wind / Pinball was not available in English here in the US so all this time I’ve wondered about The Rat and his origins, as did fans everywhere. I’m happy to say that readers will get to spend much more time with The Rat in this volume of two books. Two books in one! I die!

In Wind, we meet our unnamed narrator. He’s an unassuming guy (a Murakami trademark). He hangs out at J’s Bar, has an on again, off again romance with a nine-fingered woman and when he is not fantasizing about her, he’s hanging out with The Rat. You could call this novel “uneventful” but it’s classic Murakami. Lots of deep thinking. Not a lot of action.

In Pinball, things pick up a bit. It’s the same unnamed narrator but set during his days as a student. This novel is more surreal in feel. He comes home to find a set of twins in his bed. He calls them 208 and 209. As you may or may not know, sex is almost a given in a Murakami novel and if there are ears involved in any way, then you get to take a drink (kidding, sort of). To make this novel even more interesting, our unnamed narrator and The Rat find themselves obsessed with a particular pinball machine which sends them on a search to find it.

The beauty of a Murakami novel is often how simple the story is. It’s usually this tiny thing that’s surrounded by strange and unusual people and sometimes weird, fantastical happenings. I love his writing.

That being said, there is a slightly different tone to Wind. I could tell that he was still figuring out what type of writer he wanted to be. After all, if you read the newly added introduction, you learn that he decided to be a writer while attending a baseball game. Just like that. He wanted to write and did. If you read nothing else, read the introduction.

This first novel made me feel as if I was reading something in secret. I sometimes think that Murakami injects pieces of himself into his books but in Wind, it felt as if HE was a character in the book. I kind of loved it for that reason.

It comes out today so run out and get a copy if you can.

I’ve read all of his novels now. What am I going to do? I was thinking about reading Kafka on the Shore again. Why? Because that is what you do when it takes years for a new book to come out.

There’s always this:

Kafka on the Shore, The Show

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.

Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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22 thoughts on “Review: Wind / Pinball”

  1. I’m looking forward to reading these, especially Pinball. I actually read Hear the Wind Sing a while ago (I got the international Japanese English language version available mostly from ebay) and remember liking it well enough. It was very interesting seeing Murakami’s origins as an author.

    Fortunately though I still haven’t read all of his books. I hate getting to that point! So for a while yet, I’ll be okay.

    1. I love Murakami so much that I actually thought about taken Japanese just so that I could get his newer books, quicker. When Colorless was release in Japanese and we had to wait for over a year to get an English version, I just about lost it. I don’t think he is working on a novel now which mean if he starts one next year, it could be a really long time before I have another novel in my hands. Unless, he writes in English. He’s not done that before. 

      1. Japanese really isn’t difficult to learn–the Kanji is the only challenging part of it. I’m learning now, and with a good textbook it’s less daunting. I recommend the Genki series if you want to think about it. It’s a beautiful language. Go for it!

    1. It has nothing to do with smarts but I’d say that his fans are probably dreamers at heart. If you can lose yourself in surreal writing and happen to like getting lost in that way, then you will enjoy Murakami. 

    2. You really don’t need an English degree to read Murakami. He’s quite accessible. It’s easy to lose yourself in his stories (in a good way!). Like Ti said, if you enjoy that, that’s all the criteria you need–loving a good story.

      Don’t let fear limit you. 😀

    1. A lot of his publicity pics have a cat in his arms so yes, I think he does love cats but cats don’t have good luck in his books. Especially Kafka on the Shore.

  2. I’ve been dying to get my hands on a copy of these two novels since forever. I was excited when I heard they were coming out on 8/4, because its my birthday and I thought – Wow! What a great gift! LOL! I’d seen other bloggers post about Hear the Wind Sing and was always jealous they got to read his first book. Now, I’ll finally get to experience it. I’m excited to read The Trilogy of the Rat in its entirety now 🙂 That’s awesome you were able to get a review copy – woo hoo! And, I’m so happy you enjoyed Wind. I’m still not done reading all of Murakami just yet. I’ve paced myself with his works, so that I will have something to read of his and not be without. I learned to pace myself after gobbling up all of Vonnegut’s books in one go and then being without for so long – drove me crazy! So, fingers crossed that something new gets released soon for you to read 🙂

    1.  Happy Birthday!! Yes, get the book for yourself! I still have some of his non fiction to read. The Underground one and a collection of short stories but hey, they aren’t novels and I so love his fictional works. He better be writing a new book. 

    1. It was but those first few chapters were a little different in feel. I was worried that I wasn’t going to enjoy the book but then all of a sudden it turned a corner and bam, I was back in the land of what I’ve come to know as Murakami. 

  3. Haven’t read the Trilogy, but I did love 1Q84, my latest Murakami read. He’s very quiet and understated, and I love how he makes you work for it – for getting to the heart of the story. Beautiful review, Ti 🙂

    1. I have to reread 1Q84. I loved it but the details didn’t stick. I think I was more into the hype of its release and all of the reading parties at the time that I didn’t lose myself in it like I do his other books. 

  4. The wait for any Murakami novel is SO worth it. I’m the same way with Salman Rushdie. I rather wait 5 years for a brilliant novel by these two (the number is just an example) than have them release mediocre novels every year. Murakami is just brilliant. I am thinking of doing a Rat marathon just to celebrate this book release.

    I was surprised with the employee at B&N didn’t even have to wait for me to finish my sentence before he knew what book I was looking for! I hope other people will give Murakami a try–his works are phenomenal.

    1. No one at my Barnes and Noble even knows who he is! Criminal, really. Every time he has a book out, I have to have someone pull it from the backroom because they don’t even know to put it out by its release date. 

  5. I really liked the intro and thought Wind was a bit too rambling but happy I got to read/listen to the one – Makes me want to read A Wild Sheep Chase again.

  6. Well, I’ve been meaning to read more Murakami so maybe I’ll do The Rat trilogy. Unless you decide to read Kafka On The Shore again – in which case, I’d love to read it along with you.

    1. I really want to read Kafka on the Shore again. It was my very first book of his and now that I’ve read all of them, I’m curious to go back and really soak it up. If you want to read it too, what month is good for you?

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