Oriana's Reviews > The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami
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's review
Jun 24, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: read-pre-goodreads

Not only was the book amazing (I truly believe he can do no wrong), but one of my best friends and I saw an actual play of it several years ago at Lincoln Center. We had seats in the very front row. The play (as required, I'm sure) was balls-out crazy, all in Japanese, with a ticker doing subtitles at the the top of the stage. My memory sucks, but I think I recall a bunch of people with static-spewing TVs for heads, and some crazy shit with sideways sleeping people. Probably I should reread the stories and much more will come back to me.

It was one of those incredible New York nights, me and Joe and Murakami madness, all dressed up because we could, and then after the play it was raining, but not too hard, and it was spring and we were only about fifty blocks and crosstown from home, and our heads were so filled with that crackly, delirious intensity you get after experiencing something purely astonishing, so we walked, him in a bit of a suit and me in as close as I get to heels, these like hemp platform sandals which I still have and are tinged with mold from how soaked we got that night, slipping into each other and going over and over everything we had just seen, eyes huge and brains sizzling and rain everywhere and bliss.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
June 24, 2008 – Shelved
July 27, 2013 – Shelved as: read-pre-goodreads

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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Jennie Saw the same production in Ann Arbor. Was one of the single most stunning, mind-blowing shows I've ever attended. Character doubles acting out flashbacks over the rest of the cast's head like thought bubbles, doing flips in the air while hooked up to a rig, and all of it to Wagner and a blue lightning show...

message 2: by tim (new) - rated it 2 stars

tim Wow, great review! Do you know if there's any chance of this production happening again? Sounds incredible. It's been over ten years since I read the book and for some reason it didn't leave as much of an impression on me compared to most of Murakami's novels. Although, I vividly remember and enjoyed Barn Burning. I should really reread this.

Oriana Jennie I am thrilled to hear that you saw it too, and were as blown away as I was! I've worried that on reflection I'd imagined it to be even more insane / amazing than it was, so it's good to have corroboration of its greatness.

J.Lope: aw, thanks! I sadly don't have any idea if it'll happen again. I think I barely even knew it was happening the first time; just one of those things where someone says "Hey, I just heard about this crazy thing happening this weekend..."

Jennie J. Lope and Oriana: To my knowledge, the production only toured for one season. I always keep an eye open for a bootleg video of it, but no luck so far. I just started reading the stories this week. So far they don't quite live up to the show :( But I've only started...

message 5: by tim (new) - rated it 2 stars

tim Last November I saw posters for this production in Vancouver, BC. To my chagrin I had to leave a week before it opened. At least the show continues. Maybe one of these days I'll actually catch it.

message 6: by Jimmy (new)

Jimmy That description sounds much better than the book. And I remember loving the book.

Actually, how did they do a production of a COLLECTION of short stories? was it a bunch of short one act plays?

Oriana Gosh, I wish I remembered. I mean, Murakami is certainly one for repetition of themes, so maybe it was like a meta-play about all the things he talks about in the different stories? But honestly I don't know.

switterbug (Betsey) I love Murakami, and your enthusiasm!

Oriana Aw, thanks Betsey. : )

message 10: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason I love love love him. upon completing windup i bought ALL of his books, which now sit on my kindle and engage themselves in a fight over which one i select first. What do you think? the elephant vanishes versus blind willow? which should i begin first?

Oriana Ooh, well I'm definitely more partial to his longer works, and also it's been a loooong time since I've read either, so I'm not sure how to advise. On the bright side, though, neither choice will be wrong. : )

message 12: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Thanks. I'm thinking kafka

Oriana LOVE that one. Do it!

message 14: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason I'll get on it right after no the fault in our stars and the other short story collection. So much readying yo get on

Oriana Haha yup. I've heard great things about Fault in Our Stars, how is it?

message 16: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Best young adult book I have ever read. Typically you have this issue with the plot being flat and the narrative excelling, or the other way around. This book is well formulate in regards to both. I have only just started. And yes I got it because of the hype, ha. But it does seem to meet expectations

Oriana Wow, that's a strong rec. I'll definitely get to it one of these days!

message 18: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason Ok but im only like fifty pages in, mind you. I know people say that it is a bit trite, because, keep in mind it's a topic that has been written about before, but this one is definitely a bit atypical as far as your average young adult book. The narrative is a bit sappy and at times someone predictable, but it is written for teens. I like it conceptually as well as the progression so far. If anything the narrative isn't as complex or emotionally driven as an adult book, but that is someone to be expected

David What a beautiful description! I saw the same production in London, about 10-15 years ago and it has always stuck with me. I was already a Murakami fan at that point. I'd recommend After Dark. It's a one-sitting book, written almost in real-time, charting the course of two characters through one night. My favourite of his and a must-read for night owls.

Oriana Thanks so much, David! I'm always pleased to hear that other people saw the show too; it's been so burnished in my mind as to sometimes seem as if I made it up.

I've read all his books, but I haven't re-read After Dark in a while. I'll have to pick it up again!

freckledbibliophile Oriana, I wish I was fortunate enough to have been able to see the play. It's sounds just as intriguing as the book. He's such a skilled (out of the box) writer.

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