Monday, August 3, 2015

Wind / Pinball; Haruki Murakami

Wind / Pinball; Haruki Murakami
August 2015 - Random House Audio
Kirby Heyborne (narrator) Ted Goossen (translator)

Newly translated into English, "Wind/Pinball" are the first two books of the author, part of "Rat" trilogy that is completed with, A Wild Sheep Chase.

Both Wind and Pinball are very short and probably best described as novellas.  In "Wind", an unnamed narrator is home from college for the summer and spends his time patronizing J's Bar, listening to music and drinking beer with his wealthy friend, "The Rat". He talks and fantasizes about the women he has been with including a 9-fingered woman he has been seeing,

In "Pinball", the  narrator is now out of college and living and working in Tokyo as a translator. He's bent on tracking down a spaceship pinball machine he played while in college. He's involved with identical twins who are staying appeared in his bed one morning. The twins at times are only distinguishable by the numbers on their shirts - 208 and 209 (assuming they haven't switched shirts to have a little fun of their own). The Rat is still hanging out at J's but seems depressed and has had no luck with women.

For Murakami fans who have an appreciation for the writer's work, these (2) entry novellas seems to reveal how the author is trying to develop his style.  "Wind", almost seems incomplete with rambling dialogue which reader's new to this author may be put off by, especially since there is no real plot or resolution to this short story.

In " Pinball"  there was more of a surreal feeling developing. I couldn't help but wonder if this unnamed narrator in both stories was in some small way a bit autobiographical of the author at that particular point in his life.

There were recurring themes like loneliness, death and obsession. We also see emotionally devoid young men and physically imperfect women much more like the author's later offerings. I especially enjoyed the quirkiness of the characters and the conversations between the narrator and "the rat". Overall, I was satisfied by this combined offering, as I think it gives readers a nice glimpse into the creative talent this author possesses. I thought the introduction which describes how the author was inspired to write was fantastic.

The audio version, read by Kirby Keyborne, was very well done.

4/5 stars
(audio and eGalley)


  1. I love Heyborne's narration but I'm not sure if the book is for me.

    1. It was a nice for a Murakami fan, but might not be as well received by Murakami newbies.

  2. We had the same thoughts about Pinball. I do believe there was a lot more of Murakami in there than he'd probably admit to.

    1. It makes me want to read A Wild Sheep Chase again.

      The only one left for me is 1Q84, which I downloaded when it was released but haven't read.

  3. Wonderful, concise review! I am curious about the contents of the intro now.


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