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Wind/Pinball: Two Novels by Haruki Murakami

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Wind/Pinball: Two Novels: 02/18/19

Wind/Pinball: Two Novels

Wind/Pinball: Two Novels by Haruki Murakami and translated by Ted Goossen is a single volume containing the first two Rat novellas: Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973. I read these two in quick succession after having seen The Night is Short, Walk on Girl which has nothing to do directly with Murakami besides being surreal and Japanese.

There's also a thematic connection. The Rat novellas are about a man, his best friend, and a former roommate known as the Rat remind a great deal of the trio of characters that show up in Tomihiko Morimi's stories (and anime / film adaptations).

In Hear the Wind Sing we have the unnamed protagonist hanging out at a bar and dating a nine fingered woman. This short novel is spent mostly thinking about stuff or talking hypothetical stuff while at J's Bar. While the stakes are lower here, the setting, character relationships, and general banter remind me of Tatami Galaxy and The Night is Short, Walk on Girl.

In Pinball, 1973, we get more of a sense of the Murakami to come, and perhaps a sense of his inspiration for Tomihiko Morimi. The still nameless protagonist is now a student. He comes home to find twins whom he names 208 and 209 from the numbers on their jerseys. This sentiment is later played out to hilarious extremes in Shirakuma Café when Penguin-san can't tell the five Penguin sisters apart which they prove by changing the jewelry they're wearing.

Both novels also bring in Murakami's love of music and pop culture, though these novellas are focused more on rock and roll, where later ones are more classically inclined.

The third Rat book is A Wild Sheep Chase.

Five stars

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