Tag Archives: Haruki Murakami

Review: Men Without Women (Stories)

Men Without Women

Men Without Women
By Haruki Murakami, Translated by Philip Gabriel and Ted Goossen
Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780451494627, May 9, 2017, 240pp.

The Short of It:

A collection of stories that embody everything you love about Murakami.

The Rest of It:

Murakami’s new book came out in Japan not long ago but those of us in the US must wait for the translation before we can eagerly dive in.  Somehow, the Murakami Gods heard our cries and delivered to us a “new” story collection to tide us over.

However, it’s not all new.

One story in particular, which also happened to be my favorite, previously appeared in The New Yorker. As I was reading Scheherazade,  it was vaguely familiar to me but you know what, it really didn’t matter that I had read it before because every time I pick up Murakami’s work, there’s always something new to discover.

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a bookstore and there is a finely curated shelf full of recommendations? That’s how I feel about this collection. I don’t know how much input he actually had in putting these stories together, but they all complement one another and include everything you love about Murakami. The angst, the food talk, the weird little quirks and it was just good to get this little taste of Murakami before the big release of his new book. This collection centers on men and their relationships with women. Some of the stories are more complex than others but all of them leave you pondering relationships in general.

Murakami is what I recommend any time someone says they are in a reading rut and I think many of you have read some of his books based on my eternal gushing. BUT IF YOU HAVEN’T,  you must. I can’t accurately describe the feeling I get when I read one of his books but there’s this sense of one-ness that comes over me and suddenly nothing matters but the story in front of me.

Read this collection and then read Killing Commendatore when it comes out. No details on the US release as of yet.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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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.