Review: Hear the wind sing / Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami

Author: Haruki Murakami
Title: Hear the wind sing / Pinball, 1973
Series: The Trilogy of the Rat #1-#2
Genre: General fiction
Publisher: Kodansha
Publishing Date: 1979
Pages: 282
Source: Dutch publisher

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Hear the Wind Sing is the first novel by Haruki Murakami; it first appeared in the June 1979 issue of Gunzo, one of the most influential literary magazines in Japan. It’s the first book in the Trilogy of the Rat. Pinball, 1973 is the second book in this trilogy. The plot centers on the narrator’s brief but intense obsession with pinball, his life as a freelance translator, and his later efforts to reunite with the old pinball machine that he used to play. He describes living with a pair of identical unnamed female twins, who mysteriously appear in his apartment one morning, and disappear at the end of the book. Interspersed with the narrative are his memories of the Japanese student movement, and of his old girlfriend Naoko, who hanged herself, like the character of the same name in Murakami’s later novel Norwegian Wood. The plot alternates between describing the life of narrator and that of his friend, The Rat.

So, you’re into Haruki Murakami’s novels? Then you should definitely read these ones. Hear the wind sing and Pinball, 1973 are Murakami’s first two novels, which had been published in Japanese magazines only. Now that this Japanese writer has become a writer of bestsellers, his first works have also been translated into English. The Dutch version is out today, for the first time, so that’s why I’ve read it only now. The Book Depository tells me a hardcover edition of the two stories is on its way to the English-speaking public and will be out in August 2015, but correct me if I’m wrong. ;)

So, about the stories. They’re actually not that special if you’re looking for thrills, action or perfect prose. As he says in the first sentece: “Perfect prose doesn’t exist, and neither does perfect desperation“. But.. if you’re a Murakami fan, I think this is the perfect book for you. I haven’t read that much of him, only parts of books, but these two novels definitely announce the beginning of his writing career, both figuratively and literally. While you can feel he’s searching for the right way to write a novel, you can also see his writing style developing while writing. This is most visible when you switch from the first book to the second. Pinball, 1973 is much more surreal than Hear the wind sing and the way he writes becomes much more his own way.

While these books are not the most amazing books I’ve ever read, I can definitely see the potential Murakami had when he started writing his first novels. And these novels make me want to read more by him. 1Q84 is already sitting on my shelves (though it’s such a daunting amount of pages!), so I’m hoping I can get to that one soon. Have you read books by Murakami? I’m curious about what you think and which ones you recommend.

Top ten 2014 releases I meant to read but didn’t get to

Do you know the feeling you want to read almost everything that gets published? I do, but I don’t have all the time in the world. :( That’s why there are a few 2014 releases I didn’t get to, but still want to read. This is my top ten of 2014 releases that are still waiting for me on my shelves. Fortunately I get to read a lot of them in Dutch for review when they are translated. ;) Which ones do you recommend mostly?

All the light we cannot see | The Silkworm | Station Eleven | The girl with all the gifts | The Children Act
Frog Music | Bad Feminist | The first fifteen lives of Harry August | Euphoria | Stone Mattress

What is your top ten?

It’s Monday January 12th. What are you reading?

Hi everyone! Let’s welcome a brand new week with a fresh meme. Yes, you’re right. Last week I made a few resolutions for the new year. What I didn’t mention was blogging more, but I’m going to try to. This means I’m going to experiment with some different memes. Top Ten Tuesday is a keeper and I love reading all these currently reading-lists, so I figured I should try to make one every week myself.

Last week was a bit hectic with all these deadlines and this week still is, but I found a way to still read a few books. I finished reading the Dutch edition of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which was awesome (you can read my review here!). And last night I also finished reading the Dutch edition of Hear the wind sing / Pinball, 1973, a paperback edition containing the first two short novels by Haruki Murakami. You can expect a review from that one this week. :)

Today I started reading the Dutch edition of All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr. I’ve heared so many good things about this novel that I can’t wait to get into it. You’ll hear from me as soon as I finish. ;)

PS: have you noticed I’ve only read Dutch editions. That’s because I’m reviewing a lot of books for CultuurBewust.nl this month and I get these books from the Dutch publishers. Let’s hope all of this Dutch reading doesn’t influence my English too much. ;)

It’s Monday. What are you reading?

Review: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Author: David Mitchell
Title: The Bone Clocks
Genre: Modern Fiction, Fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publishing Date: September 2, 2014
Pages: 608
Source: Publisher

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One drowsy summer’s day in 1984, teenage runaway Holly Sykes encounters a strange woman who offers a small kindness in exchange for ‘asylum’. Decades will pass before Holly understands exactly what sort of asylum the woman was seeking…

The Bone Clocks follows the twists and turns of Holly’s life from a scarred adolescence in Gravesend to old age on Ireland’s Atlantic coast as Europe’s oil supply dries up – a life not so far out of the ordinary, yet punctuated by flashes of precognition, visits from people who emerge from thin air and brief lapses in the laws of reality. For Holly Sykes – daughter, sister, mother, guardian – is also an unwitting player in a murderous feud played out in the shadows and margins of our world, and may prove to be its decisive weapon.

My first read and review of 2015! And boy, did I make a good choice. The Bone Clocks is full of amazing characters, suspense, important questions of life and immortality ánd an absolutely beautiful writing style.

Holly Sykes is by far one of the most relatable characters I’ve ever read about. The fact that this book, which consists of six different storylines, begins with her, made me fly through the first hundred pages or so. The way she thinks and acts is realistic, while Mitchell describes events that are not: the supernatural. By giving every character in the book another amount of belief and by making them doubt that, the story doesn’t really turn into fantasy, but into something that could really happen in our society.

I loved all the characters, good and bad, because they are human: they don’t know what they’re doing or what’s going to happen, they doubt, they love, they fail, like every person does. The only annoying character was Crispin Hershey, a failed writer who keeps on making the bad choices. But hey, annoying people do exist in real life, so it’s only natural to not like a character. Plus, the way Mitchell brought Crispin to life within the story and gave him a part to play in the events, made his appearance only logical.

The Bone Clocks is about the supernatural, about people, about doing the right thing (or not). And I think this is definitely going to be a reread. :)