Pinball, 1973

Before Christmas I read Haruki Murakami‘s Pinball, 1973. I fell in love with his Norwegian Wood in May and have been looking forward to reading more of his work ever since. Pinball, 1973 isn’t of the same quality as Murakami’s later work, but it was still an enjoyable read.
The book details events of a young man working as a text translator as he makes his way through unusual and mundane circumstances. The lead character happens to be living in a relationship that is not quite sexual with two twins he can not tell apart other than through their sweaters, which are marked with the numbers 208 and 209. A major plot element is his hunt for a pinball machine he played while in college and gave the personification of an old lover. These strange aspects are tempered by his career, which he seems to find little joy in.
Twinning the narrator’s story is another of his friend Rat, who enters into a romantic relationship that soon fails and has him leaving the small town in which he was living. The two stories are on the surface dissimilar, but have a common theme of nostalgic longing and a sense of meaningless or focusless living, which drive the characters into cycles of unrest. There is also a tenderness in the relationships as they are waxing, however, that gives the story a pulse of contrast and underlines what is desirable in life.
Pinball, 1973 will likely be hard for you to find in an English translation (it was originally written in Japanese), as it was published only as a English book aimed at readers in Japan learning this language, but it’s worth hunting down. Norwegian Wood is a much better novel, however, so I’d suggest looking for it first.

1 comment on “Pinball, 1973

  1. Where did you get Pinball 1973? I've been searching for a copy but can't find anything for less than.. well, 5 times the cost of the rest of his books combined. I know it's not his best book but I've read all the others and want to complete the collection.

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