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Wind/Pinball

Two novels

Translated by Ted Goossen
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Best Seller
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.

“More than anyone, Haruki Murakami invented 21st-century fiction. . . . He is the novelist of our mash-up epoch and the subversive who, by intent or not, lit the fuse to whatever 'canon' of the previous century anybody still takes seriously. . . .Murakami is the first major Japanese author born in the radioactive white light of the modern age. . . . [His] atomic sensibility characterizes world literature. . . . If Murakami’s hybrid futurism is a product of Japanese tradition clashing with local postmodernism, then the greatest revelation of his debut is how this contradiction has raged in Murakami from the outset. . . . Recalling the prologue that Thomas Pynchon wrote more than 30 years ago for his collection 'Slow Learner,' Murakami’s introduction to Wind/Pinball affords the reader a rare glimpse behind the curtain of a mysterious creative process. . . . On some subliminal level the tension and power of Murakami’s stories reside in the reader’s hope, sometimes fulfilled and sometimes dashed, for reconciliation between the storyteller and his story.”  —The New York Times Book Review

“A fresh, heart-warming dose of the Japanese master. . . . These new-old books are short but by no means slight. Nor are they only for hard-core Murakami fans.” —The Economist
 
“[Wind/Pinball] clearly show[s] a writer of innovation emerging and developing his formidable talent. . . . Both books have that unique blend of melancholy and beauty that Murakami manages so well; they are mysterious, moreish. . . . Novella-sized, they incorporate the themes that preoccupy Murakami to the present day, and bear much of the same style. . . . What is also there, especially in Hear the Wind Sing, is reflections on writing itself, as if Murakami were stating his reasons, and his need, to tell stories. . . . What stands out in both books is the writing, beautiful in its simplicity, and also the deadpan humour and one-liners. . . . The dialogue is sparklingly clever, drunkenly witty.” —The Independent

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“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.” —The Guardian

“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.” —Electric Literature

“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.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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.” —Evening Standard
 
“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.” —Electric Literature

“Short, darkly magical coming-of-age tales.” —Elle

“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.” —The Daily Californian
 
“A reading experience that causes personal reflection [and] thoughts larger than ourselves. . . . Even though they were released separately, combining the two works into one volume fits perfectly, as they feel like two sides of a tape, and when one side reaches its conclusion, the other is ready to begin.” —Huffington Post
 
“Utterly delightful. . . . [The novellas] both have that indelible sense of detachment that permeates all of Murakami's fiction, a deadpan dreaminess that fatalistically accepts all manner of remarkable goings-on.” —Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“A great treat—both for Murakami enthusiasts and for the more casually interested reader. . . . A pair of early literary excursions that are never less than insightful and intelligent; brisk and diverting; unusual and transporting; and that offer a fascinating insight into the imagination of a young writer. . . . The vigour and playfulness with which Murakami handles these peculiar, shifting stories makes for a volume that even those unfamiliar with his writing are likely to enjoy, and there is plenty here for the aficionado, too.” —The National (UAE)
© Elena Seibert
HARUKI MURAKAMI was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and one of the most recent of his many international honors is the Cino Del Duca World Prize, whose previous recipients include Jorge Luis Borges, Ismail Kadare, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Joyce Carol Oates. View titles by Haruki Murakami
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 carpet. The kind of rain you find in a Claude Lelouch film.

We ate the cookies, drank two cups of coffee each, and brushed the crumbs off our laps at exactly the same moment. No one spoke.

“Shall we?” one of the twins said at last.

The other nodded.

I put out my cigarette.

Leaving our umbrellas behind, we picked up the switch panel and marched to the end of the dead-end bridge that jutted out into the water. The reservoir had been created by damming a river: its banks followed an unnatural curve, the water lapping halfway up the mountainside. The color of the water suggested an eerie depth. Falling drops made fine ripples on the surface.
One of the twins took the switch panel from the paper bag and handed it to me. In the rain it looked even more pathetic than usual.

“Now say a prayer,” one of the twins said.

“A prayer?” I cried in surprise.

“It’s a funeral. There’s got to be a prayer.”

“But I’m not ready,” I said. “I don’t know any prayers by heart.”

“Any old prayer is all right,” one said.

“It’s just a formality,” added the other.

I stood there, soaked from head to toenails, searching for something appropriate to say. The twins’ eyes traveled back and forth between the switch panel and me. They were obvi­ously worried.

“The obligation of philosophy,” I began, quoting Kant, “is to dispel all illusions borne of misunderstanding . . . Rest in peace, ye switch panel, at the bottom of this reservoir.”

“Now throw it in.”

“Huh?”

“The switch panel!”

I drew my right arm all the way back and hurled the switch panel at a forty-five-degree angle into the air as hard as I could. It described a perfect arc as it flew through the rain, landing with a splash on the water’s surface. The ripples spread slowly until they reached our feet.

“What a beautiful prayer!”

“Did you make it up yourself?”

“You bet,” I said.

The three of us huddled together like dripping dogs, looking out over the reservoir.

“How deep is it?” one asked.

“Really, really deep,” I answered.

“Do you think there are fish?” asked the other.

“Ponds always have fish.”

Seen from a distance, the three of us must have looked like an elegant memorial.
“More than anyone, Haruki Murakami invented 21st-century fiction. . . . He is the novelist of our mash-up epoch and the subversive who, by intent or not, lit the fuse to whatever 'canon' of the previous century anybody still takes seriously. . . .Murakami is the first major Japanese author born in the radioactive white light of the modern age. . . . [His] atomic sensibility characterizes world literature. . . . If Murakami’s hybrid futurism is a product of Japanese tradition clashing with local postmodernism, then the greatest revelation of his debut is how this contradiction has raged in Murakami from the outset. . . . Recalling the prologue that Thomas Pynchon wrote more than 30 years ago for his collection 'Slow Learner,' Murakami’s introduction to Wind/Pinball affords the reader a rare glimpse behind the curtain of a mysterious creative process. . . . On some subliminal level the tension and power of Murakami’s stories reside in the reader’s hope, sometimes fulfilled and sometimes dashed, for reconciliation between the storyteller and his story.”  —The New York Times Book Review

“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.” —Chicago Tribune
 
“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.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“A fresh, heart-warming dose of the Japanese master. . . . These new-old books are short but by no means slight. Nor are they only for hard-core Murakami fans.” —The Economist
 
“[Wind/Pinball] clearly show[s] a writer of innovation emerging and developing his formidable talent. . . . Both books have that unique blend of melancholy and beauty that Murakami manages so well; they are mysterious, moreish. . . . Novella-sized, they incorporate the themes that preoccupy Murakami to the present day, and bear much of the same style. . . . What is also there, especially in Hear the Wind Sing, is reflections on writing itself, as if Murakami were stating his reasons, and his need, to tell stories. . . . What stands out in both books is the writing, beautiful in its simplicity, and also the deadpan humour and one-liners. . . . The dialogue is sparklingly clever, drunkenly witty.” —The Independent

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“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.” —The Guardian

“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.” —Electric Literature

“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.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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.” —Evening Standard
 
"Indispensable." —The Free Lance-Star

“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.” —Electric Literature

“Short, darkly magical coming-of-age tales.” —Elle

“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.” —The Daily Californian
 
“A reading experience that causes personal reflection [and] thoughts larger than ourselves. . . . Even though they were released separately, combining the two works into one volume fits perfectly, as they feel like two sides of a tape, and when one side reaches its conclusion, the other is ready to begin.” —Huffington Post
 
“Utterly delightful. . . . [The novellas] both have that indelible sense of detachment that permeates all of Murakami's fiction, a deadpan dreaminess that fatalistically accepts all manner of remarkable goings-on.” —Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“A great treat—both for Murakami enthusiasts and for the more casually interested reader. . . . A pair of early literary excursions that are never less than insightful and intelligent; brisk and diverting; unusual and transporting; and that offer a fascinating insight into the imagination of a young writer. . . . The vigour and playfulness with which Murakami handles these peculiar, shifting stories makes for a volume that even those unfamiliar with his writing are likely to enjoy, and there is plenty here for the aficionado, too.” —The National (UAE)

About

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.

“More than anyone, Haruki Murakami invented 21st-century fiction. . . . He is the novelist of our mash-up epoch and the subversive who, by intent or not, lit the fuse to whatever 'canon' of the previous century anybody still takes seriously. . . .Murakami is the first major Japanese author born in the radioactive white light of the modern age. . . . [His] atomic sensibility characterizes world literature. . . . If Murakami’s hybrid futurism is a product of Japanese tradition clashing with local postmodernism, then the greatest revelation of his debut is how this contradiction has raged in Murakami from the outset. . . . Recalling the prologue that Thomas Pynchon wrote more than 30 years ago for his collection 'Slow Learner,' Murakami’s introduction to Wind/Pinball affords the reader a rare glimpse behind the curtain of a mysterious creative process. . . . On some subliminal level the tension and power of Murakami’s stories reside in the reader’s hope, sometimes fulfilled and sometimes dashed, for reconciliation between the storyteller and his story.”  —The New York Times Book Review

“A fresh, heart-warming dose of the Japanese master. . . . These new-old books are short but by no means slight. Nor are they only for hard-core Murakami fans.” —The Economist
 
“[Wind/Pinball] clearly show[s] a writer of innovation emerging and developing his formidable talent. . . . Both books have that unique blend of melancholy and beauty that Murakami manages so well; they are mysterious, moreish. . . . Novella-sized, they incorporate the themes that preoccupy Murakami to the present day, and bear much of the same style. . . . What is also there, especially in Hear the Wind Sing, is reflections on writing itself, as if Murakami were stating his reasons, and his need, to tell stories. . . . What stands out in both books is the writing, beautiful in its simplicity, and also the deadpan humour and one-liners. . . . The dialogue is sparklingly clever, drunkenly witty.” —The Independent

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“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.” —The Guardian

“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.” —Electric Literature

“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.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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.” —Evening Standard
 
“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.” —Electric Literature

“Short, darkly magical coming-of-age tales.” —Elle

“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.” —The Daily Californian
 
“A reading experience that causes personal reflection [and] thoughts larger than ourselves. . . . Even though they were released separately, combining the two works into one volume fits perfectly, as they feel like two sides of a tape, and when one side reaches its conclusion, the other is ready to begin.” —Huffington Post
 
“Utterly delightful. . . . [The novellas] both have that indelible sense of detachment that permeates all of Murakami's fiction, a deadpan dreaminess that fatalistically accepts all manner of remarkable goings-on.” —Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“A great treat—both for Murakami enthusiasts and for the more casually interested reader. . . . A pair of early literary excursions that are never less than insightful and intelligent; brisk and diverting; unusual and transporting; and that offer a fascinating insight into the imagination of a young writer. . . . The vigour and playfulness with which Murakami handles these peculiar, shifting stories makes for a volume that even those unfamiliar with his writing are likely to enjoy, and there is plenty here for the aficionado, too.” —The National (UAE)

Author

© Elena Seibert
HARUKI MURAKAMI was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. His work has been translated into more than fifty languages, and one of the most recent of his many international honors is the Cino Del Duca World Prize, whose previous recipients include Jorge Luis Borges, Ismail Kadare, Mario Vargas Llosa, and Joyce Carol Oates. View titles by Haruki Murakami

Excerpt

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 carpet. The kind of rain you find in a Claude Lelouch film.

We ate the cookies, drank two cups of coffee each, and brushed the crumbs off our laps at exactly the same moment. No one spoke.

“Shall we?” one of the twins said at last.

The other nodded.

I put out my cigarette.

Leaving our umbrellas behind, we picked up the switch panel and marched to the end of the dead-end bridge that jutted out into the water. The reservoir had been created by damming a river: its banks followed an unnatural curve, the water lapping halfway up the mountainside. The color of the water suggested an eerie depth. Falling drops made fine ripples on the surface.
One of the twins took the switch panel from the paper bag and handed it to me. In the rain it looked even more pathetic than usual.

“Now say a prayer,” one of the twins said.

“A prayer?” I cried in surprise.

“It’s a funeral. There’s got to be a prayer.”

“But I’m not ready,” I said. “I don’t know any prayers by heart.”

“Any old prayer is all right,” one said.

“It’s just a formality,” added the other.

I stood there, soaked from head to toenails, searching for something appropriate to say. The twins’ eyes traveled back and forth between the switch panel and me. They were obvi­ously worried.

“The obligation of philosophy,” I began, quoting Kant, “is to dispel all illusions borne of misunderstanding . . . Rest in peace, ye switch panel, at the bottom of this reservoir.”

“Now throw it in.”

“Huh?”

“The switch panel!”

I drew my right arm all the way back and hurled the switch panel at a forty-five-degree angle into the air as hard as I could. It described a perfect arc as it flew through the rain, landing with a splash on the water’s surface. The ripples spread slowly until they reached our feet.

“What a beautiful prayer!”

“Did you make it up yourself?”

“You bet,” I said.

The three of us huddled together like dripping dogs, looking out over the reservoir.

“How deep is it?” one asked.

“Really, really deep,” I answered.

“Do you think there are fish?” asked the other.

“Ponds always have fish.”

Seen from a distance, the three of us must have looked like an elegant memorial.

Praise

“More than anyone, Haruki Murakami invented 21st-century fiction. . . . He is the novelist of our mash-up epoch and the subversive who, by intent or not, lit the fuse to whatever 'canon' of the previous century anybody still takes seriously. . . .Murakami is the first major Japanese author born in the radioactive white light of the modern age. . . . [His] atomic sensibility characterizes world literature. . . . If Murakami’s hybrid futurism is a product of Japanese tradition clashing with local postmodernism, then the greatest revelation of his debut is how this contradiction has raged in Murakami from the outset. . . . Recalling the prologue that Thomas Pynchon wrote more than 30 years ago for his collection 'Slow Learner,' Murakami’s introduction to Wind/Pinball affords the reader a rare glimpse behind the curtain of a mysterious creative process. . . . On some subliminal level the tension and power of Murakami’s stories reside in the reader’s hope, sometimes fulfilled and sometimes dashed, for reconciliation between the storyteller and his story.”  —The New York Times Book Review

“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.” —Chicago Tribune
 
“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.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“A fresh, heart-warming dose of the Japanese master. . . . These new-old books are short but by no means slight. Nor are they only for hard-core Murakami fans.” —The Economist
 
“[Wind/Pinball] clearly show[s] a writer of innovation emerging and developing his formidable talent. . . . Both books have that unique blend of melancholy and beauty that Murakami manages so well; they are mysterious, moreish. . . . Novella-sized, they incorporate the themes that preoccupy Murakami to the present day, and bear much of the same style. . . . What is also there, especially in Hear the Wind Sing, is reflections on writing itself, as if Murakami were stating his reasons, and his need, to tell stories. . . . What stands out in both books is the writing, beautiful in its simplicity, and also the deadpan humour and one-liners. . . . The dialogue is sparklingly clever, drunkenly witty.” —The Independent

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“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.” —The Guardian

“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.” —Electric Literature

“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.” —Kirkus Reviews

“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.” —Evening Standard
 
"Indispensable." —The Free Lance-Star

“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.” —Electric Literature

“Short, darkly magical coming-of-age tales.” —Elle

“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.” —The Daily Californian
 
“A reading experience that causes personal reflection [and] thoughts larger than ourselves. . . . Even though they were released separately, combining the two works into one volume fits perfectly, as they feel like two sides of a tape, and when one side reaches its conclusion, the other is ready to begin.” —Huffington Post
 
“Utterly delightful. . . . [The novellas] both have that indelible sense of detachment that permeates all of Murakami's fiction, a deadpan dreaminess that fatalistically accepts all manner of remarkable goings-on.” —Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

“A great treat—both for Murakami enthusiasts and for the more casually interested reader. . . . A pair of early literary excursions that are never less than insightful and intelligent; brisk and diverting; unusual and transporting; and that offer a fascinating insight into the imagination of a young writer. . . . The vigour and playfulness with which Murakami handles these peculiar, shifting stories makes for a volume that even those unfamiliar with his writing are likely to enjoy, and there is plenty here for the aficionado, too.” —The National (UAE)

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