cover image Wind/Pinball: Two Novels

Wind/Pinball: Two Novels

Haruki Murakami, trans. from the Japanese by Ted Goossen, read by Kirby Heyborne. Random House Audio, 8 hrs., $35 ISBN 978-0-8041-9027-5

This volume collects the first two novels, written in 1978 and never before published in the U.S., by internationally acclaimed Japanese author Murakami. Hear the Wind Sing is a touching and almost totally uneventful sketch of a record-collecting regular at J’s Bar, his quiet romance with a nine-fingered woman, and his friendship with a ne’er-do-well called the Rat. Pinball recounts the same narrator’s student days on the eve of the Vietnam War, his encounter with identical twins known as 209 and 208, and how he and the Rat become swept up in “the occult world of pinball.” Introspective to the minute, both short novels have an almost Beat-generation feel in their depiction of 20-something life in Japan during the 1970s. Reader Heyborne’s languid narration fits well with the elegiac tone of the author’s prose. His slow, almost robotic reading of the descriptive passages accentuates Murakami’s subtle, strange imagery amid simple prose. These two loosely connected, sometimes wandering stories from a first-time novelist destined for greatness are diamonds in the rough, but Heyborne helps them shine. A Knopf hardcover. (Aug.)