The Elephant Vanishes [NOOK Book]

Overview

With the same deadpan mania and genius for dislocation that he brought to his internationally acclaimed novels A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami makes this collection of stories a determined assault on the normal. A man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald's in the middle of the night; and a young woman discovers that she has become irresistible to a little green ...
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The Elephant Vanishes

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Overview

With the same deadpan mania and genius for dislocation that he brought to his internationally acclaimed novels A Wild Sheep Chase and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami makes this collection of stories a determined assault on the normal. A man sees his favorite elephant vanish into thin air; a newlywed couple suffers attacks of hunger that drive them to hold up a McDonald's in the middle of the night; and a young woman discovers that she has become irresistible to a little green monster who burrows up through her backyard.

By turns haunting and hilarious, The Elephant Vanishes is further proof of Murakami's ability to cross the border between separate realities -- and to come back bearing treasure.


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The virtuoso Japanese novelist presents 17 playful and darkly comic existentialist conundrums. (July)
Library Journal
This collection of 15 stories from a popular Japanese writer, perhaps best known in this country for A Wild Sheep Chase ( LJ 11/15/89), gives a nice idea of his breadth of style. The work maintains the matter-of-fact tone reminiscent of American detective fiction, balancing itself somewhere between the spare realism of Raymond Carver and the surrealism of Kobo Abe. These are not the sort of stories that one thinks of as ``Japanese''; the intentionally Westernized style and well-placed reference to pop culture gives them a contemporary and universal feel. Engaging, thought-provoking, humorous, and slyly profound, these skillful stories will easily appeal to American readers but must present something of a challenge to the Japanese cultural establishment. At their best, however, they serve to dispel cultural stereotypes and reveal a common humanity. Recommended for libraries with an interest in contemporary fiction.-- Mark Woodhouse, Elmira Coll. Lib., N.Y.
Kirkus Reviews
A seamless melding of Japanese cultural nuances with universal themes—in a virtuoso story collection from rising literary star Murakami (A Wild Sheep Chase, 1989; Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, 1991). These 15 pieces, some of which have appeared in The New Yorker and Playboy, are narrated by different characters who nonetheless share similar sensibilities and attitudes. At home within their own urban culture, they happily pick and choose from Western cultural artifacts as varied as Mozart tapes, spaghetti dinners, and Ralph Lauren polo shirts in a terrain not so much surreal as subtly out of kilter, and haunted by the big questions of death, courage, and love. In the title story, the narrator—who does p.r. for a kitchen-appliance maker and who feels that "things around [him] have lost their balance," that a "pragmatic approach" helps avoid complicated problems—is troubled by the inexplicable disappearance of a local elephant and his keeper. In another notable story, "Sleep," a young mother, unable to sleep, begins to question not only her marriage and her affection for her child, but death itself, which may mean "being eternally awake and staring into darkness." Stories like "TV People," in which a man's apartment is taken over by TV characters who "look as if they were reduced by photocopy, everything mechanically calibrated"; "Barn Burning," in which a man confesses to burning barns (it helps him keep his sense of moral balance); and "The Second Bakery Attack," in which a young married couple rob a McDonald's of 30 Big Macs in order to exorcise the sense of a "weird presence" in their lives—all exemplify Murakami's sense of the fragility of theordinary world. Remarkable evocations of a postmodernist world, superficially indifferent but transformed by Murakami's talent into a place suffused with a yearning for meaning.
From the Publisher
“These are beautifully written stories, often funny, always moving.” –Chicago Tribune

“Eerie, unsettling. . . . [A] wonderful combination of the bizarre and the mundane.” –Village Voice Literary Supplement

“Charming, humorous and frequently puzzling . . . The Elephant Vanishes [is] fun to read.” –The New York Times

“These stories show us Japan as it’s experienced from the inside. . . . [They] take place in parallel worlds not so much remote from ordinary life as hidden within its surfaces. . . . Even in the slipperiest of Mr. Murakami’s stories, pinpoints of detail flash out . . . warm with life, hopelessly–and wonderfully–unstable.” –The New York Times Book Review

“A stunning writer at work in an era of international literature.” –Newsday

“Enchanting…intriguing…all of these tales have a wonderfully surreal quality and a hip, witty tone. Mr. Murakami has pulled off a tricky feat, writing stories about people who are bored but never boring. He left me lying awake at night, hungry for more.” –Wall Street Journal

The Elephant Vanishes, through [its] bold originality and charming surrealism, should win the author new readers in this country.” –Detroit Free Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307762733
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/11/2010
  • Series: Vintage International
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 152,164
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami was born in Kyoto in 1949 and now lives near Tokyo. He is the author of many novels as well as short stories and non-fiction. His works include Norwegian Wood, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Kafka on the Shore, After Dark and What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. His work has been translated into more than forty languages, and the most recent of his many international honours is the Jerusalem Prize, whose previous recipients include J.M. Coetzee, Milan Kundera, and V.S. Naipaul.

Biography

The The story of how Haruki Murakami decided to become a novelist says a lot about his work, because it is as strange and culturally diffuse as the works he writes. While watching a baseball game in Toyko in 1978 between the Yakult Swallows and the Hiroshima Carp, Murakami witnessed an American hit a double. At the crack of the bat, Murakami -- who had never had any ambition to write because he assumed he didn't have the talent -- decided that he should begin a novel. He then started his first book, in the night hours after work.

If you're waiting for a connection between the double and the epiphany, there isn't one. It's often that way in Murakami's fiction, where cultures blend and seemingly incongruous, inexplicable events move the story forward. People disappear or transform as quickly as the worlds around them, and the result is a dreamlike atmosphere that blends mystery, magic realism and sci-fi while remaining unmistakably distinct from all three.

Murakami was brought up in a suburb of Kobe by parents who were teachers of Japanese literature; but the literature of his parents did not interest him and he read mostly American authors, listened to American jazz and watched American shows. For this reason, though his books are set in Japan and originally written in Japanese, they do not seem terribly foreign to English speakers. South of the Border, West of the Sun's title derives from a Nat King Cole song; and you're as likely to find a reference to McDonald's, Cutty Sark or F. Scott Fitzgerald as you are to anything Japanese.

Murakami began his career with the coming-of-age novels Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973, but he hit his stride with A Wild Sheep Chase, a novel about a twentysomething ad executive who is drawn into the quest for an elusive, mutant sheep. The novel appeared in the U.S. seven years after its 1982 publication, introducing American audiences to this unclassifiable author. It contained many of the traits that mark Murakami's novels: a solitary male protagonist who drifts just outside society; first-person narration; and philosophical passages nestled within outlandish, unconventional plots. An admiring New York Times Book Review called Murakami a "mythmaker for the millennium."

The author's commercial breakthrough in Japan had come with the publication of Norwegian Wood in 1987, which sold two million copies. The story of a man who becomes involved with his best friend's girlfriend after the friend's suicide, it stands alone as the author's most straightforward, realistic work. Murakami acknowledges the book's impact on his career, and stands behind it; but he is also aware that it represented a departure from the surreal books that had made him a "cult" author with a modest following. "After Norwegian Wood, I have not written any purely realistic novels," Murakami said in a 2001 publisher's interview, "and have no intention of writing any more at this time."

Murakami's return to surrealism with Dance Dance Dance (the sequel to A Wild Sheep Chase), however, did not slow his career growth. Further translations of his work and publication of his stories in the New Yorker assured a growing following in the States, where his best known (and, to some, his best) work is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which appeared here in 1997. It's a masterful work that draws together all of the themes Murakami had been exploring in his fiction up until then: modern ennui, the unpredictability of relationships, a haunting backdrop of Japanese history.

In addition to his sublime and profoundly strange short stories and novels (Sputnik Sweetheart; Kafka on the Shore; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, etc.), Murakami has made occasional forays into nonfiction -- most notably with Underground, a compilation of interviews with victims of the 1995 sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, and his 2008 memoir of the New York City Marathon, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. He has also translated several works by American authors into Japanese, including title by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Carver, and John Irving.

Good To Know

Murakami owned a small jazz bar in Tokyo for seven years after college, an experience that he enjoyed and called upon when creating the main character of South of the Border, West of the Sun, who also owns a Tokyo jazz bar.

Murakami's first three novels, -- Hear the Wind Sing, Pinball 1973, and A Wild Sheep Chase -- comprise The Trilogy of the Rat.

His most often cited influences are Raymond Chandler, Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan.

Murakami told an interviewer from Publishers Weekly in 1991 that he considers his first two novels, Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball 1973 "weak," and was not eager to have them translated into English. The translations were published, but are not available in the U.S. Third novel A Wild Sheep Chase was "the first book where I could feel a kind of sensation, the joy of telling a story. When you read a good story, you just keep reading. When I write a good story, I just keep writing."

Daniel Handler, aka children's author Lemony Snicket, is a vocal fan of Murakami's who once wrote a review/paean to the author in the Village Voice entitled "I Love Murakami." "Haruki Murakami is our greatest living practitioner of fiction," he wrote. "....The novels aren't afraid to pull tricks usually banned from serious fiction: They are suspenseful, corny, spooky, and hilarious; they're airplane reading, but when you're through you spend the rest of the flight, the rest of the month, rethinking life."

Murakami has taught at Princeton University, where he wrote most of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Tufts University. The twin disasters of a gas attack on the Tokyo subway and the Kobe earthquake in 1995 drew the author back to Japan from the United States.

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    1. Hometown:
      Tokyo, Japan
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 12, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      Kyoto, Japan
    1. Education:
      Waseda University, 1973
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

from "The Wind-up Bird And Tuesday's Women"

I'm in the kitchen cooking spaghetti when the woman calls. Another moment until the spaghetti is done; there I am, whistling the prelude to Rossini's La Gazza Ladra along with the FM radio. Perfect spaghetti-cooking music.

I hear the telephone ring but tell myself, Ignore it. Let the spaghetti finish cooking. It's almost done, and besides, Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony Orchestra are coming to a crescendo. Still, on second thought, I figure I might as well turn down the flame and head into the living room, cooking chopsticks in hand, to pick up the receiver. It might be a friend, it occurs to me, possibly with word of a new job.

"I want ten minutes of your time," comes a woman's voice out of the blue.

"Excuse me?" I blurt back in surprise. "How's that again?"

"I said, just ten minutes of your time, that's all I want," the woman repeats.

I have absolutely no recollection of ever hearing this woman's voice before. And I pride myself on a near-perfect ear for voices, so I'm sure there's no mistake. This is the voice of a woman I don't know. A soft, low, nondescript voice.

"Pardon me, but what number might you have been calling?" I put on my most polite language.

"What difference does that make? All I want is ten minutes of your time. Ten minutes to come to an understanding." She cinches the matter quick and neat.

"Come to an understanding?"

"Of our feelings," says the woman succinctly.

I crane my neck back through the door I've left open to peer into the kitchen. A plume of white steam rising cheerfully from the spaghetti pot, and Abbado is still conducting his Gazza.

"If you don't mind, I've got spaghetti on right now. It's almost done, and it'll be ruined if I talk with you for ten minutes. So I'm going to hang up, all right?"

"Spaghetti?" the woman sputters in disbelief. "It's only ten-thirty in the morning. What are you doing cooking spaghetti at ten-thirty in the morning? Kind of strange, don't you think?"

"Strange or not, what's it to you?" I say. "I hardly had any breakfast, so I was getting hungry right about now. And as long as I do the cooking, when and what I eat is my own business, is it not?"

"Well, whatever you say. Hang up, then," says the woman in a slow, sappy trickle of a voice. A peculiar voice. The slightest emotional shift and her tone switches to another frequency. "I'll call back later."

"Now, wait just one minute," I stammer. "If you're selling something, you can forget right now about calling back. I'm unemployed at present and can't afford to buy anything."

"I know that, so don't give it another thought," says the woman.

"You know that? You know what?"

"That you're unemployed, of course. That much I knew. So cook your spaghetti and let's get on with it, okay?"

"Hey, who the--" I launch forth, when suddenly the phone goes dead. Cut me off. Too abruptly to have set down the receiver; she must have pressed the button with her finger.

I'm left hanging. I stare blankly at the receiver in my hand and only then remember the spaghetti. I put down the receiver and return to the kitchen. Turn off the gas, empty the spaghetti into a colander, top it with tomato sauce I've heated in a saucepan, then eat. It's overcooked, thanks to that pointless telephone call. No matter of life-and-death, nor am I in any mood to fuss over the subtleties of cooking spaghetti--I'm too hungry. I simply listen to the radio playing send-off music for two hundred fifty grams of spaghetti as I eagerly dispatch every last strand to my stomach. I wash up plate and pans while boiling a kettle of water, then pour a cup for a tea bag. As I drink my tea, I think about that phone call.

So we could come to an understanding?

What on earth did that woman mean, calling me up like that? And who on earth was she?

The whole thing is a mystery. I can't recall any woman ever telephoning me before without identifying herself, nor do I have the slightest clue what she could have wanted to talk about.

What the hell, I tell myself, what do I care about understanding some strange woman's feelings, anyway? What possible good could come of it? What matters now is that I find a job. Then I can settle into a new life cycle.

Yet even as I return to the sofa to resume the Len Deighton novel I took out of the library, the mere glimpse out of the corner of my eye of the telephone sets my mind going. Just what were those feelings that would take ten minutes to come to an understanding about? I mean, really, ten minutes to come to an understanding of our feelings?

Come to think of it, the woman specified precisely ten minutes right from the start. Seems she was quite certain about that exact amount of time. As if nine minutes would have been too short, eleven minutes maybe too long. Just like for spaghetti al dente.

What with these thoughts running through my head, I lose track of the plot of the novel. So I decide to do a few quick exercises, perhaps iron a shirt or two. Whenever things get in a muddle, I always iron shirts. A habit of long standing with me.

I divide the shirt-ironing process into twelve steps total: from (1) Collar <Front>, to (12) <Left Sleeve>. Absolutely no deviation from that order. One by one, I could off the steps. The ironing doesn't go right if I don't.

So there I am, ironing my third shirt, enjoying the hiss of the steam iron and the distinctive smell of hot cotton, checking for wrinkles before hanging up each shirt in the wardrobe. I switch off the iron and put it away in the closet with the ironing board.

I'm getting thirsty by now and am heading to the kitchen for some water when once more the telephone rings. Here we go again, I think. And for a moment I wonder whether I shouldn't just ignore it and keep on going into the kitchen. But you never know, so I retrace my steps back to the living room and pick up the receiver. If it's that woman again, I'll say I'm in the middle of ironing and hang up.

The call, however, is from my wife. By the clock atop the TV, it's eleven-thirty.

"How're things?" she asks.

"Fine," I answer, relieved.

"What've you been up to?"

"Ironing."

"Is anything wrong?" my wife asks. A slight tension invades her voice. She knows all about my ironing when I'm unsettled.

"Nothing at all. I just felt like ironing some shirts. No particular reason," I say, switching the receiver from right hand to left as I sit down on a chair. "So, is there something you wanted to tell me about?"

"Yes, it's about work. There's the possibility of a job."

"Uh-huh," I say.

"Can you write poetry?"

"Poetry?" I shoot back in surprise. What's this about poetry?

"A magazine company where someone I know works puts out this popular fiction monthly for young girls and they're looking for someone to select and brush up poetry submissions. Then they want one leadoff poem each month for the section. The work's easy and the pay's not bad. Of course it's only part-time, but if things go well they might string you on for editorial work and--"

"Easy?" I say. "Now hold on just one minute. I've been looking for a position with a law firm. Just where do you come up with this brushing up of poetry?"

"Well, didn't you say you used to do some writing in high school?"

"In a newspaper. The high-school newspaper. Such-and-such team won the soccer meet; the physics teacher fell down the stairs and had to go to the hospital. Dumb little articles like that I wrote. Not poetry. I can't write poetry."

"Not real poetry, just the kind of poems high-school girls might read. They don't even have to be that good. It's not like they're expecting you to write like Allen Ginsberg. Just whatever you can make do."

"I absolutely cannot write make-do poetry," I snap. The very idea.

"Hmph," pouts my wife. "This talk of legal work, though. Nothing seems to be materializing, does it?"

"Several prospects have come my way already. The final word'll be in sometime this week. If those fall through, maybe then I'll consider it."

"Oh? Have it your way, then. But say, what day is it today?"

"Tuesday," I tell her after a moment's thought.

"Okay, then, could you stop by the bank and pay the gas and phone bills?"

"Sure thing. I was going out to shop for dinner soon, anyway. I can take care of it at the same time."

"And what are we having for dinner?"

"Hmm, let's see," I say. "Haven't made up my mind yet. I thought I'd decide when I go shopping."

"You know," my wife starts in with a new tone of voice, "I've been thinking. Maybe you don't really need to be looking for work."

"And why not?" I spit out. Yet more surprises? Is every woman in the world out to shake me up over the phone? "Why don't I have to be looking for work? Another three months and my unemployment compensation is due to run out. No time for idle hands."

"My salary's gone up, and my side job is going well, not to mention we have plenty in savings. So if we don't go overboard on luxuries, we should be able to keep food on the table."

"And I'd do the housework?"

"Is that so bad?"

"I don't know," I say in all honesty. I really don't know. "I'll have to think it over."

"Do think it over," reiterates my wife. "Oh, and by the way, has the cat come back?"

"The cat?" I'm caught off guard, then I realize I'd completely forgotten about the cat all morning. "No, doesn't seem so."

"Could you scout around the neighborhood a bit? He's been gone four days now."

I give some spur-of-the-moment reply, switching the receiver back to my right hand.

"My guess is that the cat's probably in the yard of that vacant house at the end of the passage. The yard with the stone bird figurine. I've seen him there often enough. You know where I'm talking about?"

"No, I'm afraid I don't," I say. "And since when have you been snooping around in the passage on your own? Never once have you mentioned--"

"You'll have to forgive me, but I've got to hang up. Have to be getting back to work. Don't forget about the cat, now." And the telephone cuts off.

I sit there looking dumbly at the receiver a second before setting it down.

Now why would my wife know so much about the passage? I can't figure it out. She'd have to climb over a high cinder-block wall to get there from our yard, and what possible reason was there to go to all that trouble to begin with?

I go to the kitchen for that drink of water, turn on the FM radio, and trim my nails. They're doing a feature on Robert Plant's new album. I listen to two songs before my ears start to hurt and I switch the thing off. I go out to the porch to check the cat's food dish; the dried fish I put in the previous night hasn't been touched. Guess the cat really hasn't come back.

Standing there on the porch, I look at the bright spring sun slicing down into our tiny yard. Hardly the sort of yard that lingers fondly in the mind. The sun hits here only the briefest part of the day, so the soil is always dark and damp. Not much growing: just a couple of unremarkable hydrangeas. And I'm not terribly crazy about hydrangeas in the first place.

From a nearby stand of trees comes the periodic 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. Nor 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.

As I listen to the wind-up bird, I'm thinking, Why on earth is it up to me to go searching after that cat? And more to the point, even if I do chance to find it, what am I supposed to do then? Drag the cat home and lecture it? Plead with it--Listen, you've had everyone worried sick, so why don't you come home?

Great, I think. Just great. What's wrong with letting a cat go where it wants to go and do what it wants to do? Here I am, thirty years old, and what am I doing? Washing clothes, planning dinner menus, chasing after cats.

Not so long ago, I'm thinking, I was your regular sort of guy. Fired up with ambition. In high school, I read Clarence Darrow's autobiography and decided to become a lawyer. My grades weren't bad. And in my senior year I was voted by my classmates runner-up "Most Likely to Succeed." I even got accepted into the law department of a comparatively reputable university. So where had I screwed up?

I plant my elbows on the kitchen table, prop up my chin, and think: When the hell did the compass needle get out of whack and lead my life astray? It's more than I can figure. There's nothing I can really put my finger on. No setbacks from student politics, no disillusionment with university, never really had much girl trouble. As near as I can tell, I've had a perfectly normal existence. Yet one day, when it came time for me to be graduating, I suddenly realized I wasn't the same guy I used to be.

Probably, the seed of a schism had been there all along, however microscopic. But in time the gap widened, eventually taking me out of sight of who I was supposed to be. In terms of the solar system, if you will, I should by now have reached somewhere between Saturn and Uranus. A little bit farther and I ought to be seeing Pluto. And beyond that--let's see--was there anything after that?
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Table of Contents

The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday's Women 3
The Second Bakery Attack 35
The Kangaroo Communique 51
On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning 67
Sleep 73
The Fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler's Invasion of Poland, and the Realm of Raging Winds 111
Lederhosen 119
Barn Burning 131
The Little Green Monster 151
Family Affair 157
A Window 187
TV People 195
A Slow Boat to China 217
The Dancing Dwarf 241
The Last Lawn of the Afternoon 267
The Silence 291
The Elephant Vanishes 307
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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2002

    The Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary

    Americans seem to be fascinated by the culture of Japan. We wonder endlessly about a group of islands that can produce things as diverse as Noh drama, zen gardens and Nintendo games. American writers, too, can't seem to get enough of Japan, e.g., Jay McInerney, John Burnham Schwartz and Michael Crichton. Haruki Murakami, one of the most original and brilliant authors writing today, gives us an entirely different look at life in Japan in his collection of short stories, The Elephant Vanishes. These stories show us Japan 'from the inside.' What might seem exotic to both Americans and Europeans, such as oyster hot pot or pillows filled with buckwheat husks, becomes, in these stories, the stuff of everyday life. In fact, Haruki Marakami's Japan could be 'anyplace,' and one has to read eleven pages into this collection before the first reference to Japan is ever made. In The Elephant Vanishes, Murakami's narrators are as much 'Everyman' as are the narrators of his novels. They are young, urban and charmingly downwardly mobile. And, they are more likely to eat a plate of spaghetti than soba noodles. They listen to Wagner and Herbie Hancock but eschew Japanese rock music. They read Len Deighton and War and Peace rather than Kobo Abe and The Tale of the Genji. They are Japanese, to be sure, but all their points of reference seem to be exclusively Western and signature Murakami. In the world of Haruki Murakami, bizarre events take place with striking regularity and, also with strikingly regularity, they are accepted as simply the stuff of everyday life. In The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday's Women, the narrator's search for a missing cat leads him to a closed-off and neglected alleyway passing between the backyards of parallel houses. Here, he encounters a sunbathing teenage girl who mimics the alleyway in that she is both ordinary and alien. In A Window, a correspondence school writing teacher pays a visit to a pupil, a married woman in her early thirties. They spend their time eating hamburgers and listening to Burt Bacharach. Nothing much happens; in fact, the thing the narrator remembers most is the lovely weather and the colorful array of sheets and futons drying over the railings of the building's verandahs. Like many of Murakami's protagonists, what these two share is absent more than it is present. Many of these stories seem more than a little fabulistic. The Dancing Dwarf is a good example. This story takes place in an impressively efficient factory that manufactures, of all things, elephants. The protagonist just happens to be assigned to the ear section during his narration of the story, working in that part of the building with the yellow ceiling and the yellow posts. His helmet and pants also happen to be yellow. The month before, however, he had been assigned to the green building and he had worn a green helmet and green pants and had made heads. TV People is a bizarre story that involves human mutants reduced by twenty to thirty percent, something that made them look far away even when close up. When these mutants invade both the narrator's home and office and begin to deny his very existence, he begins to doubt it as well. And, in The Elephant Vanishes, the haunting title story, an elephant actually disappears, with its keeper, from an enclosure where it has been kept as a mascot for a Tokyo suburb. The solution to the mystery, like all of Murakami's mysteries is not clear cut but hinges on a matter of perspective and proportion instead. Parallel worlds abound in these stories; this is ordinary life, but ordinary life fraught with unexpected and unsettling views. In the stories that make up The Elephant Vanishes, Murakami is doing what he does so wonderfully: pointing out how much of life is hidden beneath the surface, how much is truly unknowable. In Sleep, a young woman suddenly finds she no longer needs it. Rather than question her sudden awakening, she focuses instead o

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  • Posted December 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Read my review here

    http://bookjacketreviews.blogspot.com/2009_10_01_archive.html

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2005

    A nice collection of short stories

    Great to read out of boredom, over a nice period of time. The stories were thought stirring and interesting. Better than After The Quake, in my opinion. But still, they are short stories, so of course there is not too much character development. Yet, highly reccomended nonetheless.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2003

    Interesting, complex, different

    Complex and offbeat. This set of tales is usually about people bored with the routine in their lives and in the process of making unusual or drastic changes or have some sort of supernatural or alternate universe experience. Shakes up reality. Flawed, self-absorbed characters which are not easy to like add to his edge. Great read, especially if you like something unusual and smart.

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