7 CDs. 7:49 hrs. Books on Tape. 2015. ISBN 9780804190299. $35. digital download. F
This production offers two early Murakami novels newly translated into English by Ted Goossen, with a new introduction, "The Birth of My Kitchen-Table Fiction." These are well arranged and given an excellent reading by Kirby Heyborne. Both stories are coming-of-age tales of the unnamed narrator and his drinking buddy, a rich university dropout, the Rat, who was a main character in A Wild Sheep Chase, the first Murakami novel translated into English. As in much of the author's work, the trivial becomes important, the extraordinary may become commonplace, and the ordinary becomes bizarre, supernatural, or meaningless. Decisions are made, or not made, according to maintaining the status quo, with little thought or feeling that one might influence an outcome. All of this is punctuated with cigarette smoke and dulled by alcohol.
VERDICT This audio is well worth a listen and is a solid choice for adult collections. Since the novels are not truly sequential, a pause to let the first work settle in before continuing with the second is advised.

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