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Pinball, 1973 (The Rat, #2)
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Pinball, 1973 (The Rat Series #2)

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  2,943 ratings  ·  190 reviews
The plot centers on the narrator's brief but intense obsession with pinball, his life as a freelance translator, and his later efforts to reunite with the old pinball machine that he used to play. He describes living with a pair of identical unnamed female twins, who mysteriously appear in his apartment one morning, and disappear at the end of the book. Interspersed with t ...more
Paperback, 215 pages
Published 1980 by Kodansha International Ltd.
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Community Reviews

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'Pinball, 1973' is not a particularly engrossing novel. There are still the following good reasons to read it.

1. It is short, simple and a quick-read.

2. Its Murakami-ness. The novel itself is not as strong as his later novels, yet a flavor of familiar Murakami elements is present which grew and developed into his later work. The seeds which were planted here, blossomed into the novels which we love and respect. There is a beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking nameless narrator who is detached and apa
As with Hear the Wind Sing, this book traveled from Japan to New Orleans in November via my son and then traveled back to Japan with me the following month, because it's small and lightweight, easily fitting in my carry-on, though this one I read on a JR train and not on the plane.

"Pinball" is a slightly more complex story than Hear the Wind Sing (though it's somewhat of a sequel) with hints of what's to come in the last of the Rat trilogy, the even better A Wild Sheep Chase. (With its twin sist
Hurray! Finally, I have the Holy Grail of Murakami reads, available to you for $5000 in print form, or free online. I'm so excited to read this. Or should I temper my expectations, lest they mar the experience? Okay, I promise to calm down.


Aha, here are the true first sprouts of the Murakami we know and love, the thoughtful, shy musings on routine, emptiness and evil, the very beginning of his interest in cats, the occasional well-chose
Stephen M
Oct 25, 2011 Stephen M rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Murakami Fans
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Murakami. Despite an unfortunate entanglement with a Mr. Sean Lennon over the internet site: tumblr, I still enjoy his writing. I was snobbishly told that I wasn't on the "IN" of Japanese literature, apparently Ryu is the real deal. He's on my list for sure, but you can't strike Haruki off like that. At least I can't. I know not everyone likes him.

Anyway. This was a fun, easy read. Nothing spectacular but chock-full of Murakami repetends. Cats, check. Wells, check. Sparse prose,
Apr 28, 2010 Joel rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: completists
Really more of a novella than a novel, with the flavor of Murakami's short fiction. One of his hapless protagonists puzzles through his confusion about the empty spaces in his life for a while, then the book ends.

I enjoyed the first-person POV chapters much more than the third person sections about The Rat (this book is the second in the author's "Trilogy of the Rat"). It's not thrilling reading, but you get the idea that there is a lot to unpack here, and a great deal of insight into the aimle
I'm really glad I decided to read this book after "Hear the Wind Sing." It's almost like watching a bird take flight for the first time, developing into something miraculous. This book is different from some of the later Murakami works I've read, but there is even more of what I've really come to get into than "Hear the Wind Sing." You can really see Murakami's style develop. I do note a beautiful, mournful note in this book. It penetrates and reverberates through you for a while afterward. A mu ...more
Nick Klagge
This is one of Murakami's first two novels (the other being "Hear The Wind Sing"), neither of which was translated into English on a large scale. Each was translated in a small batch in Japan, I think for Japanese people who wanted to practice English. I got interested in reading these two after reading "A Wild Sheep Chase", which forms a trilogy with them ("Dance Dance Dance" is also related, so maybe it's a tetralogy). I looked on Amazon and while there are a few copies of each being sold used ...more
it's that tough review to write...

what do you think of a Great Writer's Early Work?

since novels in japan are published in Up and Down volumes, this is the Down (or Book 2) of Murakami's debut.

and traditionally, the Down is the better work.

of course; a novel's climax and resolution are the better examples of writing.

I am Clever for Pointing out Structural Details of Japanese I-Novels, ne?


we can say this is great because is presages otaku culture; pinball being an early variant of Nintendo be
Luis Pires
It is always heart-warming to read Murakami, and reading Pinball was like hearing a story from a friend when he was younger, before you knew him, but in real time. That friend was younger, but he was already one hell of a storyteller. And in those past stories you recognize the things that led up to what he is now and the stories he tells now and how much he has grown and how much better he is.
It is not an easy feat to write a good book on pinball machines, but this is a good example.
It is probably just my fault reading this right after HM's first novel, but the normal bag of tricks just didn't work for me. And maybe I am just cranky from too much air travel, but his one-dimensional female characters that only exist in the orbit of the men really started to irritate me (none of the females in this book were given names).
Well-written but awful in every other respect, PINBALL 1973 is a pretentious piece of navel-gazing tripe that feels cobbled together from several unrelated short stories. I bought the book for an airplane trip and only soldiered through it due to a lack of alternative entertainment options (darn budget airlines!).
The plot (if you can call it that) is a bunch of gobbledygook about a detached young twenty-something who, when he's not busy reading Kant or listening to Mozart, lackadaisically falls
Path Kittinat
Pinball, 1973 ดูดีกว่า Hear the wind sing ขึ้นเยอะเลย มูราคามิบรรยายบรรยายกาศออกมาได้เรียบง่าย สวย และสง่างามมากๆ ชอบสุด แต่ทั้งเรื่องดูไม่ไปทางไหนเลย มันไม่ไปไหนทางไหนเลยจริงๆ นั้นคงเพราะชีวิตเรา มันไม่ได้ไปทางไหนเลยล่ะมั้ง คงเพราะเราคงรอเวลาที่จะรู้ว่าจะไปทางไหนล่ะมั้ง เราถึงจะไปมีทาง มีเส้นทางเป้าหมายที่จะไป ดูอย่าง The Rat ที่แม้จะครุนคิดอย่างหนัก กระดกเบียร์ไปก็หลายขวด ก็ยังไม่รู้อยู่ดีว่าจะไปไหน ฝาแผด 208 -209 นั่นก็เหมือนที่อยู่ดีๆก็โผล่มาจากที่ไหนไม่รู้ แต่ก็มีเส้นทางให้หายไป ส่วนตัวเอกก ...more
"Pinball, 1973" is Murakami's second novel, and one that hasn't been released outside of Japan... the only available translation is for Japanese students learning English, and the version I read was based on that one.

Is that perhaps why this Murakami book felt different to me? The book was less polished, and the writing didn't move me as much as Murakami's work usually does. It could be the translation's fault. Maybe it's because it's the first time I was reading Murakami in English. Maybe the '
Dec 08, 2011 Jim rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Murakami fans
Pinball, 1973 is the second book in Murakami's Trilogy of The Rat.

Beginning 3 years after the first part - Hear The Wind Sing - we find the narrator out of college, living and working in Tokyo. The Rat, having dropped out of school sometime earlier, is still adrift in the seaside town, still drinking beer in J's bar, and still alienated from society and himself.

The narrative alternates back and forth between the narrator's story and The Rat's. You can anticipate the two meeting up again in the t
Jun 25, 2011 Tin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who've read Murakami before
I think I've come to a point where I've read so much Murakami that I don't know if I can say new things about him. Save for two to five books, I've read almost every Murakami I could come across with.

So, "Pinball, 1973" is the second book in "The Rat Trilogy". The funny thing is I read the trilogy (or tetralogy, if you include Dance Dance Dance) out of order. I started with "Dance Dance Dance", then "A Wild Sheep Chase", then "Hear the Wind Sing" and finally, "Pinball, 1973". I remember when I
3.25 stars

Compared to the other two of "The Rat" series from Murakami (I read A Wild Sheep Chase in 2007 and then Hear the Wind Sing last month), this one is not as engrossing.

Yes, Murakami still write like a painter, so beautiful. However, about half-way, I lose interest with the "I" character. Especially when he starts talking about spaceship (not favorite subject of mine, I guess).

The structure of two different perspectives between "I" and "The Rat" (Nezumi) also a bit distracting because th
Aug 14, 2010 Marvin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the hardcore Murakami fans
Shelves: kindle
This was Haruki Murakami's second novel. It's a difficult book to find as the author has stated he is displeased with his first and second book and there is no current in-print English translation. It is unfortunate because ii is not a bad novel at all. It appears Murakami's "worst" novel is better than most writers' best novel. It can be called an immature work. It rambles and there is a struggle by Murakami to find a coherent whole. He is definitely a developing writer at this point. Yet the M ...more
Gary Lee
Jun 06, 2008 Gary Lee rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Murakami fans who have access to it
While still a little 'thin' compared to everything Murakami put out afterwards, this short novel is a fun read and well worth a shot if you ever find yourself with a copy. (Good luck with that one -- it had a very small English print run exclusive to Japan, and used copies start in the $ low-hundreds; thankfully, a co-worker of mine was gracious enough to lend me his copy.) It's a nice, short meditation on life, existence, and pinball.
And no, it's not Murakami's best work -- and yes, it is quite
Similar in tone to Hear The Wind Sing, the narrator's deadpan delivery makes for an enjoyable read. Sure, our narrator had an obsession with pinball (one machine in particular) but he also has things in his life like the Japanese Student Movement, mysterious unnamed twin girls, loneliness, a lovers suicide, and earwax buildup, and his friends J and The Rat. An enjoyable book , if you want something a little different. Kudos again to the translator!
Kunal Sen
this is an early murakami. there are his unmistakable motifs: wells, a passive, ennui-filled young man, a girl called Naoko and her tragedy. the parts of the story that deal with the narrator's first-person memories of Naoko, her hometown and her travel there with the amazingly charming digressions in nested loops of slipstream, are the parts that work the best. the portions with the twins seem contrived without being moody or surreal or atmospheric enough, and the third-person accounts of Rat a ...more
Joseph Michael Owens
There's something inexplicable I love about this tiny little book (and its companion, Hear the Wind Sing). These two prequels to Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase are wholly charming and wonderful, there's a subtle but haunting beauty in their simplicity and I can't fathom a single reason Murakami was against their publication in English (according to David Atkinson, Murakami says they don't measure up to his own personal standards, but I'd beg to differ!). These books aren't even the best Murakami ...more
Nate D
This odd little out-of-print Murakami novella fits into a four-part cycle of 5-or-so-year intervals between Hear the Wind Sing and A Wild Sheep Chase. As such, it's a somewhat aimless meditation on aimlessness, via both its nameless narator and "The Rat". The recurring themes here seem to have congealed a little more soundly by Sheep, but its sad surreality and the poetry of Murakami's words provide plenty of reason to seek it out. If you can find a copy: I read it in one afternoon on a return t ...more
me while reading this book...

Natasha Primaditta
A chance of meeting with 'I' and Nezumi (The Rat) again. This book is quite simplistic, light, and short. Pretty much resembling its somewhat predecessor, Hear the Wind Sing. Where in that book the story took place when the characters were in their college years, Pinball picks up their stories few years afterward. It's also differ in a way that it runs on a parallel timeline where both protagonists had their own stories without being linked.

Perhaps because I've read other Murakami's books before
Ursula Florene
The second part of "The Rat Trilogy". I haven't read the Hear The Wind Sings, but once I read it, I will tell you the changes.

Still about the narrator, who (just like other Murakami characters), have seems to live a flat life and want to look for something in his life. He is a young translator, who spends his mornings and afternoons in the office, and nights with the twins in his apartment room or on the golf field. I found the idea of living with twins is interesting, but nothing superb is happ
A very early and maybe hard to find little novel by Murakami. The book came out in a series that is sold only in Japan for English students or those who are studying translations. The editions are usually only $7 or $8 and you may find some copies in Japanese language bookstores. I found my copy in Tokyo and it's worth tracking down if you are a Murakami fan. It's interesting that Murakami never put this little novel out in a regular American or British edition.
Martina Hlúbiková
Pinball 1973 isn't a best work from Murakami but anyway an easy to read novel, short and simple. Describes story of a narrator who becomes translator and one day started to live with two unnamed twins. In this short work you can find again the symbols which appear almost in all his works like wells, cats, spaghetti cooking, music and also some characters (Naoko, Rat) whose life stories are described in his later novels. Narrator is obsessed by a special pinball machine and does everything just t ...more
Yup, it’s the sequel of Hear the Wind Sing. While it’s still aimless, the story is more complex and the structure is more solid. That’s why I like its predecessor better :P. Simply because the prose is more rambling :D

So...Pinball is divided into two alternate parallel sections between the nameless narrator (using the first POV) and The Rat (using the third POV). The nameless narrator (‘I’) is obsessed with a pinball machine, one day he meets the twin and they do…threesome, what else? :D; while
Aman Mittal
Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami is the second book the Rat Chronicles. This is the second book which was published written by Haruki Murakami. This book is more penetrating than the previous Hear the Wind Sing in a few ways including the plot. It has a similar plot to the last book, but this time the author does add some linearity in the plot. The narrator is still nameless. There are again a lot of beers and cigarettes. It’s again a one day read, and yes I did read it in one day. Short, light, ...more
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Haruki Murakami (Japanese: 村上 春樹) is a popular contemporary Japanese writer and translator. His work has been described as 'easily accessible, yet profoundly complex'. He can be located on Facebook at:

Since childhood, Murakami has been heavily influenced by Western culture, particularly Western music and literature. He grew up reading a range of works by Am
More about Haruki Murakami...
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“On any given day, something claims our attention. Anything at all, inconsequential things. A rosebud, a misplaced hat, that sweater we liked as a child, an old Gene Pitney record. A parade of trivia with no place to go. Things that bump around in our consciousness for two or three days then go back to wherever they came from... to darkness. We've got all these wells dug in our hearts. While above the wells, birds flit back and forth.” 77 likes
“Me, I've seen 45 years, and I've only figured out one thing. That's this: if a person would just make the effort, there's something to be learned from everything. From even the most ordinary, commonplace things, there's always something you can learn. I read somewhere that they said there's even different philosophies in razors. Fact is, if it weren't for that, nobody'd survive.” 35 likes
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