About Haruki Murakami’s Hear the Wind Sing, and Pinball, 1973

These are two first novels of Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Hear the Wind Sing was originally published on July 1979 and a year later, Murakami released Pinball, 1973

Ronald Susilo, a great doctor, book lover, full time reader, and also a good friend of mine in this lovely small and ‘where coffee is always right’ town, Ruteng, makes a note about those books. This is his first in ranalino.co, and in the name of what we called plan and do, Ronald will regularly writes about Haruki Murakami’s novels–and also from others authors’, I hope. Let’s start!

about haruki murakami's hear the wind sing and pinball 1973
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About Murakami’s Hear The Wind Sing, and Pinball, 1973

By: M. Ronald Susilo

Talk about Haruki Murakami’s novel is very interesting because of many things. Firstly, read Haruki’s novel in English is like learn English in the very beginning level. The words he uses are very simple. The sentences and plot he writes is very easy to follow. Secondly, because of these two novels are very beginning for his work as an author, we can deeply understand how he struggles to find the time to write, how to start write a novel, and we can understand completely Haruki’s style even his personality.

These opinions I write based on the reader’s guide for this two novels from the authentic website of Haruki Murakami. I choose this guide because all of the questions on this guide are very deeply call my senses as a reader after read these two novels. Let’s look together.

Haruki writes, “It is the inherent right of all writers to experiment with the possibilities of language in every way they can imagine.” This statement makes sense because in the early times he doesn’t know how to write a novel. He only thinks that he thinks he can write a novel. After that–the time he finished Hear the Wind Sing–he even can not determine this is novella or novel.

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About language; Haruki never takes a serious look at contemporary Japanese fiction. He only reads nineteenth-century Russian novels and American detective stories. As a Japanese, Haruki has a dilemma; have to write in English or Japanese. He chooses English language. Even though Haruki’s ability in that language doesn’t amount to much. Haruki goes on. Writes in English then translate it into Japanese. It is unbelievable way, Haruki’s way.

In my opinion, that way makes Haruki Murakami’s fiction is very different from other Japanese writer in that era.

Thus, some readers in that period say that Haruki’s novel is like translated novel. Haruki makes unique and new style of writing a novel (novella). 

Hear the Wind Sing is very simple novel/novella. Write in short and simple sentences, lack of description, only two or three actors and drift of idea where this novel/novella goes to the end.
An introduction to two short novels, Haruki tells about the birth of these two kitchen-table fiction. Kitchen-table fiction means Haruki writes these novel in his kitchen table every night after gets home late from work.

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Like everybody always complain about have no time to write, Haruki proves that no time to find out some unreasonable idea, the key point is write as far as we can. After six months struggling to writes every night, he finished Hear the Wind Sing. He read it and feel bored or far from impressed.

He thinks; “if I as a writer feel bored definitely the readers will more negative reaction.” Almost writers feel that way. I’m very glad to read the Haruki’s Answer to this: “Give up trying to write something sophisticated. Forget all those prescriptive ideas about the novel and literature and set down your feelings and though as they come to you, freely, in a way that you like.”(p.x).

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Haruki opens Hear the Wind Sing with thoughts about writing process as battle in war field. He uses Derek Hartfield (American Writer) as description or example of effort to find the right words in his prose, stories and themes. Derek died after works as a writer for eight years and two months; he jumped off the Empire State Building with portrait of Adolph Hitler in his right hand and an umbrella in his left hand. Derek chooses suicide because of find out the right words at last for his novel or vice versa? Nobody knows.

In my opinion, Haruki wants to show us that all writers must have a principle like this: finish your novel or die. Not only finished, the novels must be mangled, slapdash and juvenile. That is what Haruki means with a man who uses words as weapons, I think.

Rat is one of the center figures in this two novels. His father is a rich establishment of the town but Rat hates rich, a drop out university, friend with I (at distance places) and J (owner of J’s bar). Rat’s personality shifts or change between two novels.

After he dropped out from university, Rat always come to J’s Bar to play pinball machine and and crazy for beer. He soaked up. At the end of Pinball, Rat broke up with his girlfriend; she disappeared. Rat talks to J that he wants to leaving town and find the job in nowhere in particular maybe in small town he doesn’t know exactly.

I think Rat wants to freely go anywhere and no one can determine his future situation. What I want to say about this figure is about flattened description, not interesting figure. Maybe because of Haruki still practices how to build a good figure in his novel or is that a original style from Haruki? Let us find it in another works of Haruki.

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The scenes resonated most to me is about book which written by Derek Hartfield; jumped off the Empire State Building with portrait of Adolph Hitler in his right hand and an umbrella in his left hand, that read by protagonist. He/she get that book from his/her uncle that die three years after because of intestinal cancer. Most of Haruki figure is in the dark situation especially in death.

I have read other works by Haruki; Men without Women. The same pattern with that story: the protagonist received a call in the middle of night that says his ex-girlfriend died because of suicide. Furthermore, the story says that this protagonist has three ex-girlfriends and all of them died with suicide. Is this a style of surrealism? Why Haruki very interest in suicide? Are suicides are trend in Japan in that era? I think Haruki wants to say that, “This is my rule, I create and I determine their life!”

Jakarta, 14.07, 25 August 2017

Ronald Susilo, lives in Ruteng, Flores. Founder of Petra Book Club Ruteng, and a smiling doctor.

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