This is Haruki Murakami’s first ever story so when I chanced on it in my local bookstore I didn’t hesitate. Btw, for all the Murakami fans out there he has a new book out now- Men Without Women. Go check it out.
Without further ado good people, I give you Murakami’s Hear the Wind Sing.
“Eat shit. You rich bastards.” An epic opening if ever there was one. In this story, Murakami’s style that is uniquely his is evident as is his sense of humour. There is a lightness to this book that is not evident is his subsequent works. Not to say that his later works are doused with darkness; far from it. But there is a lightness that you don’t have to scratch for in Hear the Wind Sing; it greets you at the door, ushers you in and sits you by the corner where it drops by in spurts. It could be the times that I read this book but this sort of lightness was very much welcome. I am a sucker for the dark but I dig this lightness especially when it is served with a cold beer in J’s bar.
The plot follows the narrator- who is unnamed but who we can speculatively see modeled on the author himself- and the people he interacts with during a break from school in Tokyo. It has a going-back feel as well as a sweet-lived interlude that we associate with breaks and summers before we get back to this craziness that we call life. You almost don’t want the narrator to leave; you want to stay perched on a bar stool in J’s with the narrator and the Rat. Good people.
The characters are well presented and as is usual with Murakami very memorable with a dash of crazy. In the words of the Rat: really a little nuts. The kind of characters we love. However, you get the feeling that we really didn’t get to fully meet these characters. A tad not fully developed; you get the feeling that you know the Rat but you don’t really know him, you know of the narrator’s love for music and the abstract but you don’t really know him. I think this could be a stylistic device that Murakami employs here.
If you are into tracing the earlier works of some of your fave writers I recommend picking up Murakami’s Hear the Wind Sing. If, however, you are only now discovering this great writer you might want to pass this one in favour of hos other works.