Review: The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant Vanishes (stories)
By Haruki Murakami
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780679750536, June 1994, 336pp.)

The Short of It:

Endlessly amusing.

The Rest of It:

I think this is the third short story collection that I’ve read by Murakami and it might be one of his tamest. These stories are a bit longer than the ones I’ve read in the past. Some of them almost had a novella feel to them, but what they all share is that these are normal folks doing or experiencing very strange things.

In one story, a women goes about her life without sleeping and she is perfectly fine with it. In another, TV People come and go delivering large TV screens to a man’s home and office, without anyone noticing them except him. My favorite one had to do with a man who has decided to mow his last lawn. I should also mention that one of the stories in this collection was the basis for The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, one of his more popular novels.

This is a great collection to read if you want to escape from the day-to-day. I read it very slowly, right before bed over the course of several months and it never failed to lull me into a deep sense of relaxation. Something about Murakami’s writing leaves me utterly calm and at peace with the world. He has a way of taking “normal” and twisting it just enough to make it interesting. Some of his stuff can be overly sexual in nature but this collection was not. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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21 thoughts on “Review: The Elephant Vanishes”

  1. I *really* need to read Murakami! After Dark was one of the first books added to my tbr pile when I started blogging in 2008, and I still haven’t read it yet. Maybe short stories would be a better place to begin.

    1. After Dark is a good example of his writing. Not much goes on, which is typical in his books but the surreal nature of the writing is always there to a degree. Some books more out there than others, but that dreamy quality is still there. 

    1. Usually a book that you can dip in and out of is not all that appealing but I like that quality in Murakami’s books. I will dip in and out and then ponder stuff all day after reading just a few pages of his writing. 

  2. This sounds like such a neat book and what a good idea to read it before bed! I don’t usually read before going to sleep, but this would probably be the exception.

    1. I rarely get to read before bed because once I head upstairs, the pup follows me and then sits on my head. Sort of makes it hard to read, but once in awhile I can sneak away.

  3. I have this collection, but haven’t read it yet. Sounds like something I’m going to enjoy, so I’m looking forward to it. Then again, anything by Murakami is something to be enjoyed šŸ˜‰

  4. I bet this would be a great place to start with Murakami. I have debated where to start with him for awhile now, and I like the idea of short stories that give me the flavor of his writing that I can dip in and out of. Thanks for sharing this review! I had no idea this book was even out there, and I really need to grab this one!

  5. I admit I haven’t read any Murakami. Tried but found his style a bit too ‘experimental’ for me. But I’ve enjoyed your review here. ‘Endlessly amusing’ is such an appealing phrase to describe a book. I just might retry him some time. šŸ˜‰

    1. I am trying to add your new blog feed to my reader but it’s not finding you. Sometimes I have to add “feed” to the end of a url for it to work. I did that with your other blog but I can’t seem to get it to work with the new one. Ideas? I read all blogs through Google Reader so I really want to add it there. 

  6. One of the things I enjoy about Murakami’s writing is his ability to mesh the real and the surreal. He makes it seem like it could just as plausibly be yourself experiencing oddities.

    I think you pinpointed why I didn’t have quite the success with After the Quake as I was hoping to have…instead of reading it slowly and taking time to ponder everything, I blew through it during a stopover at an airport. Oops. (blush*)

  7. I listened to the title story on audio and enjoyed it. It was such a weird juxtaposition of “real” and “surreal” that it keeps you guessing.

  8. It’s interesting of all the 9 or 11 Murakami books (I lost count) I have read, this is one of the last 4 I haven’t. Great to hear you love it, which means I will love it too!

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