Hear the Wind Sing: The Evolution of a Writer

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The first novel of a literary giant and the first book in the "Trilogy of the Rat" series. In the United States, this book is sold coupled with Pinball, the second book in the series, and published as Wind/Pinball.

This book review is part of my #LiveLikeJeff reading project

Though this book was not on Jeff’s bookshelf, it represented a small dilemma for me, since the third book in the trilogy, "Wild Sheep Chase", was on his shelves. I decided that, in order to complete my mission to read all of Jeff's books, I had to start at the beginning and read "Wind" and "Pinball" before settling into the book that Jeff did own.

And I'm glad that I did. Not because the novel is all that great. Quite frankly, in “Wind,” Haruki Murakami is learning to be one of literature's modern-day greats, but he has a long way to go. It is, however, a really interesting read for those who have spent pleasant days lost in the slightly alternate universes of “Kafka on the Shore,” or “The Windup Bird Chronicle” or “1Q84”. All worlds that I have been lost in because Jeff left all three on his shelves!

This is the novella that started it all, launching Murakami’s career as a writer, an outcome that he likely didn't anticipate as he spent one hour writing each night after closing the jazz club that he and his wife owned in a suburb of Tokyo.

In a fascinating introduction to the book, the writer reflects back on this time on his life from the perspective of a now established and world-renowned author. He writes:

“The language had to be simple, my ideas expressed in an easy-to-understand way, the descriptions stripped of all extraneous fat, the form made compact, everything arranged to fit a container of limited size.”

I describe the introduction as fascinating because I share with the young Murakami the same dream - filled with longing and audacity - that I can one day be a novelist. He describes the process of that first novel and his struggle against self doubt beautifully. Most remarkably, in order to strip the language down and simplify, he writes the opening portion of the book in English before translating it to his native Japanese.

What an interesting way to simplify language, find a rhythm, and get past the fear and self-consciousness that often comes with crippling writer's block!

While I have grown to love Murakami’s writing, it is the introduction that I liked most about this book.

The main character is sometimes likable but mostly misses the relatability that will come with Murakami’s future characters. And, while Murakami dabbles in the alternate universes that will become his later landscape, he doesn't fully dive in here. Not quite yet...but he will.

#LiveLikeJeff Reading Project

This is book is part of my #LiveLikeJeff book project. When I first met Jeff, his books were kept in neat stacks on the floor of his bedroom. His books stretched toward the ceiling in sturdy towers that were nearly as tall as me. Like all things about Jeff, even his book collection seemed larger than life. Though cancer claimed my partner at the age of 40, I continue to learn from Jeff's inquisitive and encyclopedic mind by digging into the books that peppered his thoughts and helped to form his perspective.

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