Book Review: Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami
March 22, 2011 19 Comments
As you might know, I’m quite a Haruki Murakami fan. I’ve read most of his books. I’ve reviewed on my blog The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which was my first ever Murakami (the review on my blog is from a recent re-read), but my favorite books by Murakami are Hard-Boiled Wonderland or the End of the World and A Wild Sheep Chase.
Hear the Wind Sing is the first book in a series, Trilogy of the Rat which includes A Wild Sheep Chase, but not, oddly enough, a book that is strongly related to A Wild Sheep Chase, called Dance, Dance, Dance.
Hear the Wind Sing and the second book, Pinball, 1973 are not widely distributed. The English translation is only published in Japan. It’s a small book, less than half the size of a standard sized book and has Japanese writing on the back cover as well as the inside cover, and a long list of notes at the back, where English phrases are translated into Japanese. This is obviously a book for Japanese studying English. I think this is odd, as I would find it more logical to take an original English book and have a word-list at the back, rather than a translated Japanese book.
Anyway, I had heard about this book and never thought I’d have a chance to read it, but Chinoiseries offered to lend it to me and to bring it to the High Tea we Dutch book bloggers enjoyed recently. Very kind!
Hear the Wind Sing: What it is about
It’s the summer of 1970 and the unnamed protagonist meets his friend The Rat in J’s Bar, a place they both frequent. This first-person narrator, a 21-year old student, tells us about his visits to that bar, about his previous (three) girlfriends, and how he meets a girl and ends up in bed with her (innocently, she had passed out). They form a reluctant friendship.
His third girlfriend committed suicide. At first, this appears nothing to do with our narrator, but later on in the story, it seems that this may be a direct result of his behaviour towards her and a conversation they had not long before her death.
Derek Heartfield, a non-existent American writer, is the main inspiration for the protagonist (or Murakami himself) to start writing.
Hear the Wind Sing: What I thought
I was a bit disappointed with this book. It was short (130 pages), had several themes, and didn’t seem to go anywhere. Now, OK, I’m used to Murakami’s books just ending when nothing’s resolved yet but in this case, I wasn’t at all interested in the story.
I did like (a lot) Murakami’s writing style, that I think isn’t much different from his later books (this was his first ever book).
I liked the idea of having a non-existent author as the inspiration for becoming a writer, but on the other hand, how weird is that? I’m thinking: ha, fun, I like this quirky idea! But I’m also thinking: what am I supposed to think of that?
So, you can see, mixed feelings about this book. I did enjoy reading it though. But unless I hear stories about Pinball, 1973 being a lot better, I’m not that interested in reading it. Although I should, if I get the chance, because now I’ve read almost everything by Murakami, I should continue that trend, and include ALL books!
Have you read this book? What was your opinion?
Do you like Murakami’s books?