Lamski Kikita's Reviews > The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
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Apr 19, 12

Read from April 09 to 16, 2012

Ranging from childhood memories retold, plain and simple, to strange metaphysical monsters from underground, this story collection gives you a sampler taste of what Murakami is, and what he is cannot be summed up in one word, nor in one story.

The characters in each story are unique. Sure, sometimes some characters have a couple of things in common, but it isn't true that all the characters are apathetic. I don't see how the protagonist from the Elephant Vanishes could be called apathetic. In any case, each story created a different feeling in me, and I will list one reaction/emotion that I felt while reading each story.

The Second Bakery Attack: Risky and spontaneous. Just when you think you know the partner you're married to, they do something crazy!
"six pull-tabs lay in the ashtray like scales from a mermaid"

The Kangaroo Communique: Scared. People can be so creepy, but no one wants to think about it.

Sleep: Restless. Sometimes things happen to you and no one can explain them. If you stop sleeping but you're feeling great and have even more energy than usual, then what can you do about it?

The Fall of the Roman Empire, The 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, and The Realm of Raging Winds: Relaxed. This story is just a page from someone's life; very simple, even though he compares small events in his life to history-changing events in the world. "warmthless as overbleached underwear"

Lederhosen: Perplexed. You saw someone wearing a red shoe and so you decided to drop out of school. This story's plot is kind of like that, except a little more complicated. Sometimes certain things will never make sense to anyone except that who lives the situation, and that is ok, because one should never have to justify their actions to anyone.

Barn Burning: investigative. Did he lie about burning barns? Is his life as a rich tradesman so boring that he has to make up nonsensical hobbies to someone he barely knew? Do we all have a secret activity of destruction that no one can know about?

The Little Green Monster: Sad. Just because you're a monster on the outside, doesn't mean people have the right to hurt you. And just because you look tough, doesn't mean you can't die of a broken heart.

Family Affair: neutral. Siblings and their problems. I have plenty of my own that are much more dramatic than this one, so i didn't care all that much for it!

A Window: what? A whole story, a rather interesting one at that, and the protagonist turns out to only tell it to relate it to the possibility of sex? Geez...

TV People: Weird. This is one of the typical crazy stories that you would associate with Murakami. It just happens, and there is no explanation. Should i go buy a TV before someone feels obligated to get me one?

A Slow Boat to China: Nostalgic. One can imagine China in any stereotypical way they can, with images of people dressed alike, and are presumably similar, but we can never learn of a whole peoples; only the ones we meet.

The Dancing Dwarf: wait, what? This is like a folk story or a fairytale. It just caught me off-guard when it ended so quickly when I wanted to know more. It did have a closing ending, but still left me lacking.

The Last Lawn of the Afternoon: Melancholy. I didn't care much for the protagonist, but i liked the woman he worked for on his last mowing job. I felt a certain compassion towards her, as if i could relate to her, even though we have nothing in common. I wanted to know more about her and her daughter.

The Silence: Uncertain. This is another page from someone's life. A life that is "normal" but much more cruel than all the crazy monster-filled stories of fiction you can think of. How can teenagers be so damn scary? What have we done wrong that now children are capable of causing death or destruction of someone's life?

The Elephant Vanishes: Inquisitive. I want this one to be a novel. I want the protagonist to pursue his investigation to find out what happened to the elephant and the elephant keeper. This was a perfect story to end the collection: as real as everyday life and as imaginary as metaphysical fiction.

All in all, i recommend this to everyone, including non-Murakami lovers, because I believe it would give you a good idea of the diverse literature that this great man can offer.



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