Let’s Meet in a Dream: “Pinball” by Haruki Murakami
“Pinball” is a short-short from Haruki Murakami and Shigesato Itoi’s 1981 strange collaborative story collection, Let’s Meet in a Dream.
For some reason I’ve got a pinball machine at home. It’s a Williams machine called Spacelab that I received in commemoration for my novel Pinball 1973. I got the machine for free, given the circumstances, but I felt bad about just taking something like that; I ended up giving each person a Wild Turkey in return for their kindness. Wild Turkey is a really delicious bourbon. For scotch, St. Andrews is cheap but tasty. It doesn’t have a strong taste of scotch to it, and instead is very refreshing. When I give gifts to other people, I give St. Andrews to people older than me, Wild Turkey to those younger than me, and a few cans of Märzen for when I can’t decide. I don’t know if they’ll like the drink, but all I can do is have them accept their fate and take it.
So anyway, I’ve got a pinball machine at home. When I get sick of work (which is often the case), I blast a cassette tape in my game room like some kind of jukebox and play some pinball.
The fact that these exist is a little odd, but I usually enter tournaments in Shinjuku’s Magic Land. Magic Land is an arcade located diagonally from Shigesato Itoi’s office; it’s actually one of only two cultural establishments that exist in Shinjuku. The other one is the Kyowa Bank Shinjuku branch office, where the branch manager used to talk about how he could see himself writing a bestseller someday—an empty dream he is chasing to this day.
Magic Land keeps a weekly high score board on each machine, so those who beat the high score are privileged with having their names written on that board.
Haruki Murakami: 578,230, is where I’m at.
Once in a while I’ll beat a high score and go declare it to the arcade worker. The employee tells me he’ll be sure to write it down later, but to this day I haven’t had my name written on a board even once. All I want is to show my friends my high score and brag about it, so not being able to get my name on one of those boards is really painful. I want to urge the Magic Land employee to reconsider. It’s such a waste to have this enormous wealth of machines just sitting around the arcade.
*Unfortunately, after this manuscript was written, Magic Land was remodeled and the pinball inventory dramatically reduced. They eventually filled the arcade with slot machines.
Translator’s Note: Here’s a link to information on Spacelab.
It’s not mentioned if any of the chapters are fiction or non-fiction, but I personally like to believe that this one is a true story.