Jeff Scott's Reviews > The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
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's review
May 17, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: japanese-fiction, audiobooks, short-stories

Good selection of stories where something always seems to be missing, a cat, an elephant, or sanity. At some point most of the characters in this book of short stories seems to have gone off track. Something is missing, a paralegal suddenly doesn't want to pursue law, a couple so hungry they hold up a McDonalds, a woman who can no longer sleep, and an elephant that vanishes.

The stories seem to represent a sort of "quarter-life" crisis for the characters. A lack of direction or something that has happened, a realization of a situation, that throws everything off track and has everyone scrambling to find their way again. I found some of the shorter stories I didn't enjoy as much, but the longer stories had more character development and had wonderful insights into the wandering mind. They've lost the way, but don't know when it happened, or why, and there seems to be no way to fix it.

Wind Up Bird story
From the nearby strand of tree comes the scree ee eech of a bird sharp as a tightening spring. The wind-up bird we call it. My wife's name for it I have no idea what it's really called and not even what it looks like. Nonetheless this wind-up bird is there every morning in the trees of the neighborhood to wind things up, US our quiet little world, Everything.

Sleep story
Without noticing it, I've been accustomed to live this way in a life without books. How strange now that I think of it. Reading had been the center of my life when I was young. I had read every book in the grade school library, and almost my entire allowance would go towards books. When had I really read a book last? And what had it been? I couldn't recall anything. Why did a person's life have to change so completely? Where had the old me gone, the one who would read a book as if possessed by it. What had those days and that abnormally intense passion meant to me?

Now my inability to sleep ceased to frighten me. What was there to be afraid of? Think of the advantages. Now the hours from 10 at night to 6 in the morning belonged to me alone. Until now, a third of every day has been used up by sleep, but no more, NO MORE. Now it was mine just mine, nobody else's, ALL MINE. I could use this time in any way I liked. No one will get in my way, no one will make demands of me. Yes that was it, I had expanded my life. I had increased it by a 1/3.
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Reading Progress

May 17, 2010 – Started Reading
May 17, 2010 – Shelved
May 17, 2010 – Shelved as: japanese-fiction
May 17, 2010 – Shelved as: audiobooks
May 17, 2010 – Shelved as: short-stories
May 19, 2010 –
page 15
4.46% "...this wind-up bird is there every morning in the trees of the neighborhood to wind things up, US our quiet little world, everything."
May 27, 2010 – Finished Reading

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