Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pinball, 1973 By Haruki Murakami

Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami (1980, translated by Alfred Birnbaum, 79 pages)

Pinball, 1973 is book two in a trilogy by Haruki Murakami along with Hear the Wind Sing, the first in the series and Wild Sheep Chase, the final work.    Dance, Dance,  Dance also continues the plot lines of The Rat Trilogy (the rat is a friend and sometimes business partner of the central  character, Buko, who is the narrator).     Pinball, 1973 is Murakami's  (1949-) second novel.    It has long been out of print in English translation.   Sometimes you can find a used copy for sale on Amazon (they have some now for $25.00 USA).      Murakami has stated that he will not allow Pinball or Hear the Wind Sing to be republished in English as he considered these works to be inferior to his later novels.    I wanted to read Pinball but did not want to pay the price for this short work.   I was  happy when a very considerate commentator posted link to a  pdf file of the work.

Pinball, 1973 is about a man recently out of college, Buko,  and in love with the freedom of doing what he wants to do and running a small translation business with his friend who he calls, The Rat.    The two friends never occupy the same narrative space in the book and their disconnectedness is one of the themes of the work.   The main narrator lives with twin teenage girls who he feeds and houses.   The girls are almost like pets that provide sexual pleasure.   They lack the intellectual depth to be real friends with  Buko but they help him fight away his loneliness.    There is a big hole in the center of the life of Buko that was created by the suicide of his girl friend.   In order to pass the time and to drive his mind as close as he can get it to an empty space, Buko spends a huge amount of time playing pinball at a nearby arcade and becomes the high scorer on one of the machines (a big deal in the world of pinball!).    Like later  better Murakami works there are references to wells, cats and a bar plays a big part.   (Yes one must also say references to teen age girls are part of his standard plots also.)   Buko get involved in a mystery concerning pinball machines.   (The novel takes place before even the  Pacman game was invented-1980-and pinball machines were much bigger then.)   As Buko points out, all of the machines have numerous images of very large breasted women on them.   I did learn a good bit about how the pinball business worked in Japan in the 1970s.

If you really like Murakami (as I do) and want to eventually read all his novels then Pinball, 1973 is worth the time it takes to read it.  The teen age twins seem added just to play into a male fantasy and sell some books.   The plot like did not pull me in like Wild Sheep Chase did (This is not meant in criticism, Marukumi was just getting started and second rate Murakami beats most other authors best works any way!).     It is fun to see a great writer's talent develop.

      you can read it here

A link to some of my other post on Japanese works can be found here   

Mel u


Rebecca Chapman said...

You are really plowing through the Murakami!

Bellezza said...

I was the 'fool' who bought this in paperback on eBay before it was rereleased at the 25.00 price. I don't like reading things on line, although that's certainly preferable to not having access to it at all.

After having read Dance Dance Dance and A Wild Sheep Chase, I really want to go back and read the first two in this set: Hear The Wind Sing and Pinball. I've gone about this in quite a backward way.

me. said...

I have a copy of this to read,the book has recently been reissued in Japan in this English edition.

Unknown said...

thank you !!