More than thirty years after he wrote the books, the two ‘kitchen-table’ (in his own words) novels of Haruki Murakami are made available for his fans to read. These books written after the author experienced a moment of epiphany in a baseball ground while watching his favourite team take on a more formidable set of rivals provide a sneak peek into the ideas that shaped the future and destiny of one of the most proclaimed authors of our time.
The stories revolve primarily around 3 characters – the unnamed narrator, his friend imaginatively known as the ‘Rat’ and a Chinese Bar tender, “J” (also the proprietor of a bar bearing the same initial as that of its owner) who also happens to be the duo’s sounding board. Amid strewn cigarette buds and scattered beer bottles, the story weaves, winds and wobbles upon the edifice of myriad human emotions and frailties. While the Rat broods over an agonising relationship quandary over a woman living by the sea, the narrator develops an insatiable obsession towards a specific type of pinball machine – the ‘three Flipper Spaceship’. An eager to listen J acts as a sobering influence upon the two friends as they invariably seek refuge in the former’s bar indulging in a seemingly never ending bout of alcoholic excess.
Like many of the Murakami specials, ‘Wind/Pinball’ is adamant in refusing to accommodate itself as being amenable for a genre classification. The novels are a brilliant co-mingling of the profound with the prosaic, the puzzling with the perverse.
‘Wind/Pinball’ – The beginning of a new era