The Trilogy of The Rat - (1979 - 1982)
Author: Haruki Murakami.
1) Hear The Wind Sing - (1979) 2) Pinball 1974 - (1980) 3) A wild Sheep Chase - (1982)
I read the trilogy as one long novel. And it totally works as such.
I would recommend you to read it as one novel because, in my opinion, they do not work as stand-alone ones. The 1st novel introduces the 2 main characters (the nameless narrator and The Rat) as well as the bartender J. The 1st novel is character driven and not a lot is happening in it. There is a lot of stream of consciousness, relationships and character building. The 2nd novel was half character driven and half plot driven. I like the main character obsession with the pinball machine and the mystery around it. His relationship with the twin girls is amusing and sexy, but I didn't like thier lack of character and their lack of unique voices, they felt like sexual objects but not human beings. The Rat narrative is less interesting, he is struggling with finding a meaning to his life. The 3rd book is more plot driven. The mystery of the sheep and the chase after it is a dramatic vessel to push the main characters to a tipping point: The nameless narrator is being confronted with his boring personality and mediocrity, his manhood is also being challenged by memories and dreams about a huge whale's penis and a girlfriend who has a natural intuition to solve mysteries. The Rat is being confronted by the lack of meaning in his privilege life, he sinks into depression and decided to take action and to move to Hokkaido where the mystery of the sheep chase begins. The thing I like the most about the 3rd book is the confrontation of the nameless narrator with the way he takes his girlfriends for granted; I mentioned above I didn't like the lack of character in a few female characters, but in the 3rd book, Murakami blames the nameless narrator for not understanding them and for taking them for granted, he pays a price for that at the end. The magic realism is so important in a Murakami novel, I really think there is not a lot of value gains from reading only the first 2 books. Once the magic disrupts the reality of the characters they evolve and give back to the reader more to think about, more to reflect upon. I could see Murakami's writing evolves and refined from novel to novel. He gets better at giving unique voices to different characters and drives the plot to more effective places. Even though the trilogy is dealing with heavy topics such as the meaning of life, mediocrity, depression and privilege. It's an enjoyable read with a lot of humor. The conclusion at the end of the 3rd book is unavoidable, significant, mature and will make you want to continue reading.
Verdict: 4 / 5 ★ - Meaningful and majestic.