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pinball 1973
(1973年のピンボール 1973-nen no pinboru)

First published in Japan by Kodansha (1980)

Translated by Alfred Birnbaum

Published in English in 1985 by Kodansha English Library (Japan)

ISBN 4-06-186012-7

Excellent news - everyone can finally own Pinball 73 in English without breaking the bank! from cnngo.com.

Available to order from amazon.co.jp

Where there’s an entrance, there’s got to be an exit. Most things work that way. Public mailboxes, vacuum cleaners, zoos, plastic condiment squeeze bottles. Of course, there are things that don’t. For example, mousetraps. * * * I once set a mousetrap under my apartment sink. I used peppermint gum for bait. After scouring the entire apartment, that was the only thing approaching food I could find. I found it in the pocket of my winter coat, along with a movie ticket stub.

By the third morning, a tiny mouse had flirted with fate. Still very young, the mouse was the color of those cashmere sweaters you see piled up in London duty-free shops. It was maybe fifteen or sixteen in human years. A tender age. A bitten-off piece of gum lay under its paws. I had no idea what to do with the thing now that I’d caught it. Hind leg still pinned under the spring wire, the mouse died on the fourth morning. Seeing it lying there taught me a lesson. Everything needs an entrance and exit. That’s about the size of it.


The second book in the "Trilogy of the Rat" series, it is preceded by Hear the Wind Sing (1979) and followed by A Wild Sheep Chase (1982)

Very much a continuation of Hear The Wind Sing with the familiar site (J's bar) and characters (J and Rat). The novel is a collage of everyday episodes of the single 24-year-old Tokyoist, his disinterest in his translation job, his asexual relationship with the twin sisters 208 and 209, and his half-estrangement from social world. He oscillates between ceaseless pursuit of interests (midnight visit to Pinball machine) and resignation (painless farewell to the twins), and at times emerges from the cool, semiotic space of his apartment to bath in the autumn light.

Pinball 1973, was never released in any English-speaking countries, but a translation was sold in Japan as a way to improve one's English reading skills, complete with a glossary in the back with the harder words defined in Japanese. So the translation is probably somewhat simplified but Murakami's voice still comes through, and the story is great. The last word I heard on the subject, Murakami didn't want to see this book or his first (Hear the Wind Sing, which was also translated into English for Japanese speakers, and really isn't very good) reprinted or translated into English, so I don't feel too guilty linking to it.

The Haruki Murakami novel immediately leading up to his hit "A Wild Sheep's Chase" had been out of print in English for years, but suddenly copies are flooding Japanese bookstores. More from CNN. Also available from Amazon.co.jp and ebay



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reviews / articles

Nice review and Russian edition cover pic from Alex Wyler

Insightful review by "The Green Fish"

Interesting review by "Cross Scars"

Wikipedia page on the novel

librarything.com page on the novel

Fifty Books 2008 project review by Nathan

Interesting review by Ted Mahsun

Early Murakami - Ronin on Empty article on Hear and Pinball

Bookride - Rare Book Guide to Pinball 73

Murakami Haruki: The Simulacrum in Contemporary Japanese Culture by Michael Seats - chapter on Pinball - except available from Google Book Search:

This book offers a new approach to dealing with Murakami's radical narrative project by demonstrating how his first and later trilogies utilize the structure of the simulacrum, a second-order representation, to develop a complex critique of contemporary Japanese culture. This critique is mirrored in the practices of current media-entertainment technologies which allow Murakami's works, and their critical/promotional meta-texts, to cohere under the rubric of the so-called 'Murakami Phenomenon.' Published 2006, Lexington Books, ISBN 0739107852

Memory, hybridity, and creative alliance in Haruki Murakami's fiction - an essay by Amy Ty Lai, which explores the use of animals in Haruki Murakami's fiction (inc Pinball 73)

Tony's Reading List review by Tony Malone

Review by Will from the Wednesday Afternoon Picnic