Friday, January 8, 2016

First Fiction, two novellas by Murakami

Wind / Pinball
Haruki Murakami, 2015

Number 1 of 50
Cravings inspired: cold beer, french fries, waking up with twins
A passage I loved: "I sat with my nose to the taxi window looking out. As time passed, the black came to appear somehow flat, as if someone had taken a razor to matter without substance, and the darkness was the severed end."
If this book were a person: Chummy and easygoing, but I don't miss them when they're gone.

Admission: the Murakami book everyone loves (you know the one), it's sliding somewhere underfoot in the backseat of my car, cover going sun-bleached, the lengthwise edge crimping into waves. I am ashamed to so mistreat a book, but I just can't fall in love with it.

My mom got me this new publication of the English translation of Murakami's first two novellas for Christmas. I admire Murakami's style. It's so unfussy, and has this shaggy charm. He also has a beautiful ability to lay in surprises that feel unexpected and natural at the same time. Like some trampish rumpled everyman who turns out to do perfectly elegant sleight of hand.

These novellas are probably most interesting to people who already love Murakami and are specifically curious about his early work. They do show an attention to detail, an ability to conjure setting, and an affection for humanity that is unique and enjoyable, but to what end? It's a kind of a subtle ride.

Some helpful context from the author's note at the start of the book: Murakami and his wife owned a jazz bar in the 70's, and Murakami is a huge jazz fan. Knowing this helps me appreciate the way he cycles back to images and settings, riffing, meandering...

I don't know. I'm not a jazz person. Maybe if I get into jazz I'll finally finish Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

Next up: M Train by Patti Smith


  1. I support you, Carie! I have similar Wind-Up Bird Chronicle feelings. Starts and stops and self-loathing that it's hooks just aren't in me enough to plow through.

  2. I read Wind-Up Bird last year, my first (and probably only) Murakami. Maybe there's something lost in the translation, but it was empty to me, devoid of feelings. A good book has me on the precipice of powerful emotion at all times, and I felt a couple hundred miles from the edge while reading it. A manic pixie dream girl of a book- all quirk, no substance.