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The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

The Elephant Vanishes (1985)

by Haruki Murakami

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
No one captures urban isolation and loneliness as good as Murakami. There were some misses in this book, but most of them were a hit. I especially loved the one with the penpal club (called "A Window") where the author writes to unknown recipients with the purpose of improving their English, but they are actually lonely and just wants to talk to someone. The "Lederhosen" story was particularly insightful for depression since something as simple as picking off a set of pants for your husband can set off your feelings if you have been suppressing them. "Barn Burning" was brilliant, and so was "A Family Affair". A Family Affair is the story of a brother getting to know the fiancee of his sister, of whom he doesn't think much of. The story is peppered with dry and sarcastic humour, but what really struck me was the attitude of the brother - satisfied with mediocrity, not wanting much from life, and knowing his limitations. "Sleep" was another illuminating story - about a housewife who was suddenly unable to sleep any more, going through her days in a fugue, but having an exceptional clarity of mind during the night and voraciously consuming classical Russian literature by Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.

One thing that really, really bothered me was the "Little Green Monster" story. It's unforgivably misogynistic. Murakami tries to paint women as capable of intolerable cruelty and being unreasonable. I'm pretty sure he must have been though a bad breakup, or had a bone to pick with someone when he was writing this story.

But overall, if you are a Murakami completionist, you have to absolutely get this. Or you like insightful stories about urban isolation, this is your book too. ( )
  Crontab_e | Sep 19, 2017 |
Some of the stories were almost annoying and others amazing but his writing always has a haunting unforgettable quality to it. I must confess I like after the quake better. My fav in this book was the 100% perfect girl. I'm interested in reading a full novel given his genius at character development. ( )
  ArchanaV | Jul 16, 2017 |
gave up on this ( )
  mrsrobin | Jun 24, 2017 |
The Elephant Vanishes: Stories by Haruki Murakami is a master work of prose. Nobody writes prose better than Murakami who deserves the Nobel but will never win it because his subjects are not political. Each story in this collection is a jewel. Not much happens in many of them but they are a work of beauty and can be enjoyed for their magnificent language. This collection is definitely worth a detour. ( )
  SigmundFraud | Nov 2, 2016 |
I've had a tough time putting my finger on my feelings about Murakami and his writing. Before investing in this collection of short stories, I've read two of the author's more celebrated works, as well as the author's terse answers for The Secret Miracle project. I'm still not convinced of Murakami's brilliance. While reading his stories, I often feel underwhelmed. The story can be incredibly dry, but given some magical element and a cat, it is supposed to be transformed into writing of the highest quality. The characters are often the same: young men, stuck in a tedious work, with a great love for breasts and refrigerators. Seriously, take my word for it non-Murakami readers, there is a lot of time spent in the kitchen. And yet...

And yet I cannot shake these stories. There are novels I gave five shinning stars to, but five years later, I have only the vaguest memories of their plot. It's been six years since I read my first Murakami, Kafka on the Shore, and I still remember so many details. Every week or two, an image from that novel comes back to me. I gave the book an embarrassing three-star rating, yet there are few books I've read since that I think of as much as that one. It's powerful, and yet, I'm still underwhelmed.

I heard some years back that all fiction readers can be divided into three categories: those who read for plot, those who read for character, and those who read for language. Now, a reader can span multiple categories, but most readers are going to fall primarily into one or another. A plot-driven reader can forgive sloppy characterization if the story is well told. Myself, I'm character primarily, language secondarily. A story without a well-built character, no matter how amazing the plot, is going to fall flat for me.

So here I am, analyzing my feelings regarding Murakami, trying to figure out how his writing fits into these categories—and I'm not sure they do. His characters certainly aren't carrying the stories. The language, or I should say the English translation, is nothing beautiful or unique. One could argue the plot is the central focus, as it is the strongest of the three, but I'm now noticing there is a fourth force that may be at play here: imagery. Are there books where imagery is the primary element? Then there must be readers who are image-driven readers, right? With its little people, magical flutes, elephant factories, and perfectly round breasts, breasts, breasts, Murakami's stories make a strong argument for the image-centric novel. It makes sense that Murakami would appeal so much to a visual generation that grew up with video games, comic books, and 32 television channels.

The stories in The Elephant Vanishes are most significant when they tap Murakami's talent of the visual. Murakami is skilled at taking two seemingly random elements and making a story out of them. The more visual these elements are, the more successfully they breathe life into the story. These are unforgettable moments. There are many stories in The Elephant Vanishes that fail to do this, in my opinion. Much like nearly every collection of short stories I've read, there are great stories and there are mediocre stories; despite its gems, The Elephant Vanishes is bogged down by quite a few less-than-memorable tales. As a whole, the collection is rather average.

So I walk away from Murakami again feeling underwhelmed. Despite this feeling, I already know there are images from this collection that I won't be able to shake: factories where elephants are manufactured, a dancing dwarf who comes in dream, a young couple donning the mask of the Hamburglar. In time, I'll return to the author, keeping in mind what I learned this go around: despite working in the medium of words, Murakami is in some regards a visual artist. ( )
1 vote chrisblocker | Aug 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
Det är en ojämn samling, pärlor och bagateller om vartannat. När Murakami är som sämst är han tomt idisslande. När han är som bäst tar han sig in i ens huvud.
Murakamis uppsluppna kombination av noir och fantasy är svårartat beroendeframkallande.

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haruki Murakamiprimary authorall editionscalculated
Birnbaum, AlfredTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rubin, JayTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerhoven, JacquesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Memory is like fiction; or else it’s fiction that’s like memory. This really came
home to me once I started writing fiction, that memory seemed like a kind of fiction,
or vice versa. Either way, no matter how hard you try to put everything neatly into
shape, the context wanders this way and that, until finally the context isn’t even there
anymore. You’re left with this pile of kittens lolling all over one another. Warm with
life, hopelessly unstable. “The Last Lawn of the Afternoon”
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collection of short stories
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679750533, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:29 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Contains seventeen short fiction stories by Haruki Murakami about people whose lives veer off the path of normalcy.

» see all 3 descriptions

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