I only read "Hear The Wind Sing" this time, as I already read "Pinball, 1973" 2 years ago and did not feel the need to revisit it (review here).
I wasI only read "Hear The Wind Sing" this time, as I already read "Pinball, 1973" 2 years ago and did not feel the need to revisit it (review here).
I was always curious about "Hear The Wind Sing", it being Murakami's first novel.. considering I've read most of his work I was curious where he had started out from. Add to that the fact that this book was so guarded by Murakami that in all these years it was not allowed to be published anywhere outside of Japan, and no translation could be found. The height of my Murakami-phase was about 2 years ago, and I was rather disappointed about this at the time. To eventually see this book show up in a Dutch translation, on a cold winter morning at the train station before going to work, was a huge surprise. I almost bought it but I was late for the train.
Somehow I didn't buy the book for a long time after that. After all, what book could live up to years of expectations? Especially one that Murakami himself wasn't too pleased about.
As kind of expected, this book is not mindblowing. The best thing is probably the foreword, in which Murakami talks about these books and his reflections. The story itself is messy and unclear, lacking cohesion. Like "Pinball 1973", you can definitely see the beginnings of later famous Murakami-motifs ( a bar, classical music, references to literature, etc.). You even get to meet "The Rat" in this a bit.
And yet.. this is simply not "it". It's not up to par with a new Murakami story. But it's interesting to see where it all started. Everyone has to start somewhere, after all, and with this, we can witness Murakami's beginnings.
Only recommended to Murakami fans, if not, it might be best to skip this one....more
Certainly an enlightening read about what it means to be a Geisha. I heard talk about this book mostly in relation to Memoirs Of A Geisha, a story I eCertainly an enlightening read about what it means to be a Geisha. I heard talk about this book mostly in relation to Memoirs Of A Geisha, a story I enjoyed, but this book definitely disproves a lot of the details about the life of a Geisha as depicted in that work of fiction.
As for this book itself - it was rich in detail, which I appreciated. I did wonder at times how Mineko could remember things from the past in such detail however, especially from when she was still young. Sometimes I didn't really like her as a narrator either. She seems to have been raised as a princess, and sometimes I really got annoyed by this air of superiority. Maybe it's just a distorted image one gets because of the examples she used in the book, but there was often a case where she said that she'd gotten compliments about having done this or that particularly well.. which eventually got on my nerves. I understand that she's a legend in her field (and a bit of a workaholic) and probably earned the right to be proud of what she's achieved in life, but sometimes it made her seem condescending towards others. It wasn't always pleasant to read about.
Overall though it's a very informative book, if you want to learn to look beyond the stereotypes of traditional Japanese culture and Geishas....more