Although the two short stories featured in Haruki Murakami’s Wind/Pinball are the product of the author’s first endeavor to put pen to paper, they are still classic Murakami—meandering tales with no resolution and a lot that’s left unsaid. Murakami fans will know what I mean, but for those who don’t I like to put it this way: read Murakami for his writing and your own contemplation and not for a story or an ending.
In these two stories we find an unnamed narrator and the character The Rat from A Wild Sheep Chase, two twenty-somethings contemplating their place in the world, how they got there, and whether to seek change. The stories were great as per usual, but what I enjoyed the most was his introductory essay explaining the moment when he decided to sit down and write. It’s a bit of gold for Murakami fans. Apparently, that moment came while he was watching a baseball game, and fell into his lap “as if something had come fluttering down from the sky.”
All this being said, I recommend these stories to established Murakami fans for sure—ones who follow his publications almost religiously. But for someone just getting started I would say this book is not for you. A few years ago I posted on this blog my top favorite Murakami books. In there I name Kafka on the Shore as my favorite, followed by The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle—these books have more structure, and are closer to a “regular” sort of fiction book, with story, conflict, and a narrative arc. So check these out first, plus a few others, and then when you are getting close to the end of the Murakami road, double back for Wind/Pinball.
Story: 3 // Craft: 5 // Making me wonder what life is all about, and concluding that maybe, it’s not about anything at all: a great, big existential ∞.