Wind / Pinball by Haruki Murakami
It’s been too long of a break from Murakami. Life has been too realistic, not enough weird. Going back to my original plan, I’m now reading his books in order – starting with this recently published version of his first two short stories. Even Murakami himself doesn’t consider these part of his literary career, but when there is money to be made, things happen. There is an interesting foreword from the author talking about how he started out writing novels. He says that he first started writing in English and then translating it back to Japanese, and because his English abilities were so limited, his style became very plain and straightforward. Very ironic to read all his books in English now. He also says that the epiphany to become a writer came to him during a baseball game. I guess crazy thoughts happen when you’re bored.
1) “If one operates on the principle that everything can be a learning experience, then of course aging needn’t be so painful. That’s what they tell us, anyway.”
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
2) “‘Cause they don’t need to, that’s why. Sure, they have to use their brains a little to get rich in the first place, but once they make it, it’s a piece of cake – they don’t need to think anymore. Like an orbiting satellite doesn’t need gas. They just keep going round and round, always over the same damn place.'” – the Rat
What great imagery for ‘rich get richer.’ Spend the time and energy to figure out how to launch a satellite. Once you do, you can live a chill life.
3) “But if a fridge that has to be defrosted all year round can be called cool, then that’s what I was.”
I feel like there’s a (freezer) bern in there, but I can’t feel it.
4) “Were we to speak the truth all year round, then the truth might lose its value.”
5) “‘Will it be a hassle, us not having names?'” – one of the twins
The best part of reading Wind / Pinball was identifying all the little things that would show up again in his later books. The twins are very much the predecessors to the motley crew of strange characters in Wind-up Bird / Kafka, etc. In particular, the twins don’t have names. Nameless living beings are a major theme throughout Murakami’s writing.
6) “‘Suppose someone were to die today – we wouldn’t feel sad,’ the quit young Venusian said. ‘We loved them with all our hearts while they were alive, so there’s no need for regrets.'”
How Venus of a Venusian to say this.
7) “‘Okay, so let’s say this mother dog is raising her puppies…But if she dies, then her puppies will all die too. So when her time comes, we go around replacing her with a new mother.'” – the repairman
I don’t actually know what a switch panel is, so this description (if true) helps.
8) “‘I do have a cat, though,” J added. ‘She’s getting on, but she’s still someone to talk to.'”
Talking cats in Kafka on the Shore introduced me to the Murakami world.
9) “The twins never mentioned the rain, so neither did I.”
If it’s raining, and you and your friend don’t feel the need to talk about it, then you’re real friends. This might be more applicable in LA than London though.
10) “Twenty-five…a time to crack down and do some serious thinking. Add two twelve-year-old kids together and you get the same age. Are you worth as much as they are?”
Am I? I like this alternative way of analyzing quarter-life crisis.
Neither Hear the Wind Sing nor Pinball, 1973 is very memorable. They are more of a window into Murakami’s early writing than anything. Onto the next one.