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Wind/Pinball

Cover of Wind/Pinball

Wind/Pinball

Two novels
NATIONAL BESTSELLER

In the spring of 1978, a young Haruki Murakami sat down at his kitchen table and began to write. The result: two remarkable short novels—Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973—that launched the career of one of the most acclaimed authors of our time.
These powerful, at times surreal, works about two young men coming of age—the unnamed narrator and his friend the Rat—are stories of loneliness, obsession, and eroticism. They bear all the hallmarks of Murakami's later books, and form the first two-thirds, with A Wild Sheep Chase, of the trilogy of the Rat.
Widely available in English for the first time ever, newly translated, and featuring a new introduction by Murakami himself, Wind/Pinball gives us a fascinating insight into a great writer's beginnings.
From the Hardcover edition.
NATIONAL BESTSELLER

In the spring of 1978, a young Haruki Murakami sat down at his kitchen table and began to write. The result: two remarkable short novels—Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973—that launched the career of one of the most acclaimed authors of our time.
These powerful, at times surreal, works about two young men coming of age—the unnamed narrator and his friend the Rat—are stories of loneliness, obsession, and eroticism. They bear all the hallmarks of Murakami's later books, and form the first two-thirds, with A Wild Sheep Chase, of the trilogy of the Rat.
Widely available in English for the first time ever, newly translated, and featuring a new introduction by Murakami himself, Wind/Pinball gives us a fascinating insight into a great writer's beginnings.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    The twins woke me up on Thursday morning. Fifteen minutes earlier than usual, but what the heck. I shaved, drank my cof­fee, and pored over the morning paper, so fresh from the press that its ink looked ready to smear my hands. "We have a favor to ask," said one of the twins.

    "Think you can borrow a car on Sunday?" said the other.

    "I guess so," I said. "Where do you want to go?"

    "The reservoir."

    "The reservoir?"

    They nodded.

    "What are you planning to do at the reservoir?"

    "Hold a funeral."

    "Who for?"

    "The switch panel, of course."

    "I see," I said. And went back to my paper.

    Unfortunately, a fine rain was falling Sunday morning. Not that I knew what sort of weather befitted a switch panel's funeral. The twins never mentioned the rain, so neither did I.
    I had borrowed my business partner's sky-blue Volkswagen Beetle. "Got a girl now, huh?" he asked. "Mm," I answered. His son had smeared milk chocolate or something all over the back­seat, leaving what looked like bloodstains from a gunfight. Not a single one of his cassette tapes was any good, so we spent the entire hour-and-a-half trip in silence. The rain grew stronger, then weaker, then stronger, then weaker again, at regular inter­vals. A yawn-inducing sort of rain. The only constant was the steady whoosh of oncoming traffic speeding by on the paved road.

    One twin sat in the front passenger seat, the other in the backseat, her arms around a thermos bottle and the shopping bag that held the switch panel. Their faces were grave, appropri­ate for a funeral. I matched my mood to theirs. We maintained that solemnity even when we stopped to eat roasted corn. All that broke the silence was the sound of kernels popping off the cob. We gnawed the cobs bare, tossed them away, and resumed our drive.

    The area turned out to be populated by hordes of dogs, who milled around in the rain like a school of yellowtail in an aquarium. As a result, I spent a lot of time leaning on the horn. The dogs showed no interest whatsoever in either the rain or our car. In fact, they looked downright pissed off by my honk­ing, although they scampered out of the way. It was impos­sible, of course, for them to avoid the rain. They were all soaked right down to their butt holes--some resembled the otter in Balzac's story, others reminded me of meditating Buddhist priests.

    One of the twins inserted a cigarette between my lips and lit it. Then she placed her little hand on the inner thigh of my cot­ton trousers and moved it up and down a few times. It seemed less a caress than an attempt to verify something.

    The rain looked as if it would continue forever. October rains are like that--they just go on and on until every last thing is soaked. The ground was a swamp. It was a chilly, unforgiving world: the trees, the highway, the fields, the cars, the houses, and the dogs, all were drenched.

    We climbed a stretch of mountain road, drove through a thick stand of trees, and there was the reservoir. Because of the rain there wasn't a soul around. Raindrops rippled the water's surface as far as the eye could see. The sight of the reservoir in the rain moved me in a way I hadn't expected. We pulled up next to the water and sat there in the car, drinking coffee from the thermos and munching the cookies the twins had bought. There were three kinds--buttercream, coffee cream, and maple--that we divided up into equal groups to give everyone a fair share.
    All the while the rain continued to fall on the reservoir. It made very little noise. About as much as if you dropped shred­ded newspaper on a thick...

About the Author-
  • HARUKI MURAKAMI was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and the most recent of his many international honors is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J. M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V. S. Naipaul.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    June 8, 2015
    Given Murakami’s (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage) fervent fan base and the enduring strangeness that characterizes his work, it’s not surprising that an aura of mystery surrounds his first two novels: the only previous English translations were published in Japan and they’ve been difficult to find in the West. Now 1979’s Hear the Wind Sing and the following year’s Pinball, 1973, written while the budding author operated a Tokyo jazz club, are finally available in one volume as Wind/Pinball, and Murakami obsessives are in for a treat. All the hallmarks of Murakami are here at their genesis, including his seemingly simple style, which he describes in an indispensable foreword. Wind 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 the dubious 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 called 209 and 208, and how he and the Rat become swept up in “the occult world of pinball.” Both novels, of course, feature digressions on beer, historical oddballs, obscure trivia, and jazz. Elegiac, ambient, and matter-of-fact in their strangeness, these two novels might leave casual readers wondering what all the fuss is about. But for the rest of us, this may be the ultimate bit of Murakami arcana, both elevating his other books (including A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance, Dance, Dance, the sequels) and serving as two excellent, though fragile, works in their own right.

  • Kirkus

    June 15, 2015
    Two linked early novels from the prolific Murakami (Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, 2014, etc.)."I learned a lot of what I know about writing from Derek Hartfield," writes Murakami's alter ego, who has already warned us that "writing honestly is very difficult." Hartfield is a Murakami invention, the image of an utterly obscure writer jumping off the Empire State Building carrying a picture of Adolf Hitler and an umbrella both oddly unsettling and portentous. Though these stories-two of the so-called Rat Trilogy-are more than 40 years old, marking the very beginning of Murakami's career, they are full of trademark turns. One is the iron spring that lies hidden in the tatami-covered floor of even the most tranquil room: the narrator lies in bed, smoking, looking at the beautiful young woman lying next to him, and what grabs his attention, unpalatably and uncharitably, is the fact that her beach-won suntan has faded and "the white patches left by her swimsuit looked almost rotten." Another is the untrustworthiness of the narrator-and everyone else, for that matter. Elsewhere, a naked girl pads to the kitchen to make a sandwich, returning with her "cheeks stuffed with bread" just in time to catch him in a lie-but just one lie-while, still elsewhere, a girl stirs her drink with one of her nine fingers and listens to the narrator expatiate on why it is that people die, bullshitting with gusto even as he describes dissecting a cow. And if the narrator is a Murakami alter ego, is the Rat the alter ego once removed? It's a point to ponder. There's a Beatles record on the turntable at all times, of course, offering the possibility of peace and love and unity, but then there's that iron trap again.... Not as well-developed as the later books, and mostly for completists. Still, it's interesting to see hints of the masterly novels to come in these slender, pessimistic tales.

    COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    March 15, 2015
    Murakami is more popular than you ever imagined; 3.25 million copies of his 16-book backlist are in readers' hands, and "Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage" has sold upwards of 86,000 copies, having debuted last fall as No. 1 on the "New York Times" best sellers list. Here, the publisher releases two major early works--prequels to "A Wild Sheep Chase" and "Dance Dance Dance"--nearly 30 years out of print, newly translated, and together in a single volume with an exclusive introductory essay by the author.

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Chicago Tribune "Powerful, unsettling, mature novels, replete with many of the same distinctive traits that characterize [Murakami's] later fiction: jazz, beer, a gentle surrealism, a tendency to treat the strange and the mysterious as mundane facts of life and characters haunted by an ineffable, pervasive melancholy. . . . Murakami gives his characters' quirks a humanizing legitimacy. . . . Both novels' metaphors, which are often beautifully suggestive, also cluster around certain core themes."
  • O, The Oprah Magazine "Murakami's trademark postmodernist flourishes abound--disrupting the narrative to insert a song lyric, say, or a graphic of a T-shirt--and never fail to surprise and delight."
  • Publishers Weekly "Elegiac, ambient, and matter-of-fact in [its] strangeness. . . . Given Murakami's fervent fan base and the enduring strangeness that characterizes his work, it's not surprising that an aura of mystery surrounds his first two novels: the only previous English translations were published in Japan and they've been difficult to find in the West. Now 1979's Hear the Wind Sing and the following year's Pinball, 1973, written while the budding author operated a Tokyo jazz club, are finally available in one volume as Wind/Pinball, and Murakami obsessives are in for a treat. All the hallmarks of Murakami are here at their genesis, including his seemingly simple style, which he describes in an indispensable foreword. . . . Both novels, of course, feature digressions on beer, historical oddballs, obscure trivia, and jazz."
  • The Guardian "What establishes these two novellas as quintessential Murakami are not just the themes of isolation and loneliness that will characterise many of his later works, nor their colloquial style that positions them firmly in the familiar territory of classic American coming-of-age novels. It's that both stories hint at the unique, postmodern blend of the real and the surreal, the quotidian and the allegorical for which Murakami would later become famous. . . . Murakami fans will no doubt delight in this new publication. For newcomers, these early works are an excellent introduction to a writer who has since become one of the most influential novelists of his generation."
  • Electric Literature "Electric. . . . A singular work--actually two singular works. . . . These short works are among Murakami's most carefully crafted offerings, full of raw talent, energy and magic, and totally worth getting lost in. . . . .. Murakami uses white space like Raymond Carver. . . . [Wind/Pinball] ranks with Murakami's strongest prose."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Though these stories--two of the so-called Rat Trilogy--are more than 40 years old, marking the very beginning of Murakami's career, they are full of trademark turns. . . . There's a Beatles record on the turntable at all times, of course, offering the possibility of peace and love and unity. . . . It's interesting to see hints of the masterly novels to come."
  • Evening Standard "The writing and, above all, Murakami's way of making emotionally resonant images and symbols bump around on the page, and in one's mind, remains fresh, miraculously, more than 35 years on."
  • The Free Lance-Star "Indispensable."
  • Electric Literature "Electric. . . . A singular work--actually two singular works. . . . Among Murakami's most carefully crafted offerings, full of raw talent, energy and magic, and totally worth getting lost in. . . . .. Murakami uses white space like Raymond Carver. . . . [Wind/Pinball] ranks with Murakami's strongest prose."
  • Elle "Short, darkly magical coming-of-age tales."
  • The Daily Californian "A sympathetic work that reads almost like a memoir. . . . Wind/Pinball is a playful introduction to Murakami's inventive style, tropes and all. . . . With a funhouse twist, the casual adventures of Wind/Pinball impart a self-aware honesty that will serve as inspiration for any aspiring writer while acting as mirrors to the emotional landscapes of our lives."
  • Huffington Post "A reading experience that causes personal reflection [and] thoughts larger than ourselves. . . . Even though they were released separately, combining the two works int
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