Gavin's Reviews > The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
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May 02, 11

Read from April 27 to May 02, 2011

I have only 2 complaints, which are scarcely complaints. One is that, stylistically, the stories all read similarly. The narrator might as well always be the same character, though it's true that in many cases it actually is (and this I appreciate). It's not monotonous at all, at least not in a collection of this length, but I wonder if all of Murakami's novels are also like this. Even when the narrator is a woman, I half-internalise it as the man from all the other stories.

The second "complaint" is that I found more value in the stories which skimmed closest to the surface of reality. For this I love the story Sleep, where the only conceit is an oddly benign form of insomnia. A Slow Boat To China and The Last Lawn of the Afternoon are also excellent, almost like simple recollections but particularly transcendant. On the other hand those that turn truly fantastical - typically invoking mythical creatures - read far more parabolically. Twisted little fairy tales. The Little Green Monster, TV People, The Dancing Dwarf. They are also very good, I just preferred the others.

The writing is extraordinarily good though, and owes a debt also to the translators. The pacing is impeccable. The language is generally spare, but wonderful little metaphors are scattered everywhere, a joy to glance upon before moving on. You never lag behind the narration; you're always being carried at the crest. It is fast and cerebral reading.

What I was most relieved to find, however, was the abundance of humour. In general the people occuping these universes are isolated but not, as you might expect, entirely unhappy. There's a very light touch, which I appreciate after Kafka. It does not depress.
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