Updated: Jun 15
You could almost call Hear the Wind Sing a short story or a novella it is that short. It is the debut novel of Haruki Murakami.
It is set in Japan in the 1970’s and revolves around the life of a protagonist whose name we never find out. He is a university student on a break and the novel is predominantly about his character and his thoughts during this period of time. Much of the novel sees him and his friend, "Rat", drinking and chatting at J’s Bar. Rat is a writer and is my favourite character of the book. I wish he could have played a more prominent role.
The protagonist seems like a pretty normal 21-year-old student. One night he finds a girl, missing a finger on her left hand, drunk in the bathroom. He takes her home and stays the night to look after her. However, when the girl wakes in the morning she is naked, and I think Murakami does this to make you question the morals or scruples of the protagonist. The girl must think the same thing as she asks him why he removed her clothes. She is not too happy and is late for work leaving in a huff. The two meet again by accident in the record store where she works and they become friends.
The rest of the novel is the protagonist talking about his first three girlfriends and about an author named Derek Hartfield, who eventually went on to commit suicide.
Interestingly his third girlfriend committed suicide as well.
I have not read any of Murakami’s books yet, but if they have the same style of writing he employs with this short debut I will be happy. Murakami uses short, very short chapters, and tends to make leaps from one situation or encounter to another completely different one with regularity. I loved the style and it works well with this novel, cutting out any “fluff” and not wasting any words or time. The dialogue between characters is also written well. The problem is, and remember this is his debut, there is nothing particularly special about this debut. Very little happens and it has the feel of a short story. It is an enjoyable read though and does enough to get me interested in his other books. 3.5 Stars.
This is a buddy read with the wonderful Nat K, but we have not had much discussion on this one. Nat has read much of Murakami's work and I am very interested to see her take on this debut. We are now reading his second novel, which is again another short novel, "Pinball 1973".
Murakami Haruki (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'. He can be located on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/harukimuraka...
Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by American writers, such as Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan, and he is often distinguished from other Japanese writers by his Western influences.
Murakami studied drama at Waseda University in Tokyo, where he met his wife, Yoko. His first job was at a record store, which is where one of his main characters, Toru Watanabe in Norwegian Wood, works. Shortly before finishing his studies, Murakami opened the coffeehouse 'Peter Cat' which was a jazz bar in the evening in Kokubunji, Tokyo with his wife.
Many of his novels have themes and titles that invoke classical music, such as the three books making up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: The Thieving Magpie (after Rossini's opera), Bird as Prophet (after a piano piece by Robert Schumann usually known in English as The Prophet Bird), and The Bird-Catcher (a character in Mozart's opera The Magic Flute). Some of his novels take their titles from songs: Dance, Dance, Dance (after The Dells' song, although it is widely thought it was titled after the Beach Boys tune), Norwegian Wood (after The Beatles' song) and South of the Border, West of the Sun (the first part being the title of a song by Nat King Cole).