Title: The Elephant Vanishes
Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Vintage International
Publication Date: June 28, 1994
Rating: 4.5 Stars
“I realize now that the reality of things is not something you convey to people but something you make.” – “The Elephant Vanishes”
Dear fellow Babblers,
I’ve been slightly MIA lately with my posts. Sure, I’ve been a reading slumper but that’s not to say that I’ve not been reading at all. I mean 0 ? Come on now – give me some kudos for still managing to read 600 page novels all the while balancing two editorial internships, two creative writing workships, and a pitiful social life that includes me, my local boba shop, and my “lap” kitty. “Then what reason have you for no reviews Delphine”, challenges no ghost reader in particular. Anyone in the book blogging fam bam would never dare pose such a ridiculous query (can that be considered a synonym for question?). Only a few days left of June 2017 and we are officially (a little more than) half way through the year! What does that mean for a reader and even more so for book bloggers ? We must use flowery and illusory literary language to reflect upon our reading experiences and all the great (and not so great) authors and books we have chosen to read over hitting the beach (I live in L.A. so the beach is kinda sorta a BIG deal). It’s the book bloggers ‘book blogging’ responsibility to read, review, discuss. As a result, so many of us have been participating more than ever in weekly memes and tagging each other in posts and re-blogs such as the Mid Year Freak Tag and Top Ten Tuesday…
But, it’s still critical and utterly inescapable for us to return every now and then to the book. Yes that means today’s post is a review. As you all probably uncovered by now, my favorite new author of the year is the ever enchanting Japanese, Haruki Murakami. Kafka on the Shore was recommended to me from one of my best friends at university last Christmas and it wasn’t until a few months ago that I finally read the book. There’s no reason in particular that I didn’t start it sooner – maybe it was all the school work piling up as well as other books that seemed more intriguing at the time on my TBR list.
Long story short (are my babbles ever short ? We still haven’t started the review so you be the judge on that one my fellow suffering babblers) I absolutely fell in love with Murakami for his illusory writing style and the flawless ways in which he immediately draws the reader into his imagination. So here I am, recently finishing his collection of short stories, The Elephant Vanishes, offering you a glimpse of this collections mind sweeping magic.
Here we go. Au revoir reality – Bonjour land Murakami.
Good Reads Review:
With the same deadpan mania and genius for dislocation that he brought to his internationally acclaimed novels A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami makes this collection of stories a determined assault on the normal. A man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald’s in the middle of the night; and a young woman discovers that she has become irresistible to a little green monster who burrows up through her backyard.
By turns haunting and hilarious, The Elephant Vanishes is further proof of Murakami’s ability to cross the border between separate realities — and to come back bearing treasure.
This collection of 17 short stories are all geniusly written. They captivated me instantly from the TV guys who consistently make a haunting appearance in ‘TV People’ to the housewife who no longer needs shut eye in ‘Sleep’, with ‘The Elephant Vanishes’ concluding the chain of whimsical happenings ever-so vividly illustrated. I’ve always felt a bit daunted going into short stories because reading them requires a certain type of reader. One who is able to remain completely absorbed by the story, taking in every vital detail, and automatically being rewarded by the moment of ‘epiphany’ when everything falls into place and seems to make sense, despite the absurdity if one chooses to evaluate the story from a realistic, and perhaps ‘dry’ perspective. I’m naturally a novel-reader in which I often like to pause, sometimes skip seemingly insignificant passages and description, and skim through later chapters in hopes of having my readerly anticipations fulfilled. This cannot happen with a short story, which is probably why I’ve always shied away from picking one up. Upon reading The Elephant Vanishes however I’m looking forward to more short-story-reading in the future.
Murakami naturally excels in both the novel and short story form where his majestic tone and surrealistic treatment of his characters succeed in creating a world is at the same time a fantasy and a truth. Dare we call him the contemporary Lewis Carroll or our time, with perhaps a twist of J.K. Rowling ? The personalities of his characters, from the starving couple in ‘The Second Bakery Attack’ to the teenager who mows lawns because he loves to mow lawns in ‘The Last Lawn of the Afternoon ‘, to the dancing, sadistic dwarf in ‘The Dancing Dwarf’ are clearly constructions of a world that is distinct, yet still with resonance in our everyday experiences. Murakami’s lyrical flow and the situations that he confronts his reader with are psychologically thrilling in their representation of completely made up affairs such as vanishing animals, figures that blur the boundaries between dreams and awakenings, and actions that question good and evil. Because I’m a bit of a ‘ditzy’ reader who constantly finds herself getting distracted, pausing, rereading – many of the stories, upon finishing, had me a bit lost and in need of an extreme glossing and rereading to make sense. And at times, such as after turning the last page of ‘ TV People’ I was like « say whah ? What is the purpose? I don’t get it! ».
Murakami is definitely not for all you babblers. He is at once apathetic and raw in his dialogue and descriptions of things. However, are we not, as readers, supposed to be carried off into a land where nothing is quite as it seems? In’t there always a moment of reflection, epiphany, and sometimes misunderstandings as well as complete confusion ? Yes! Um.. duh!
Murakami renders time, sleep, dreams, thoughts, love – life all subject from scrutiny by means of imaginative creations. Despite my moments of disorientations and desperate wantings to babble with strangers around me just to escape from my bookish struggles, I thoroughly enjoyed The Elephant Vanishes just for its mystery and romantic creepiness.
Read anything by Murakami ? What’d ya read? What’d ya think? Recommendations ? Comments ? Questions? Anything bookish or babble-worthy ? Comment below and *pinky promise * we’ll be in touch!
(All image credits go to Google)