Fiction/short stories, written between 1980-1990,
copyright 1993, trade pb, Vintage UK, 318 p.
translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum and Jay Rubin
Salon Interview with Murakami
When a man’s favourite elephant vanishes, the balance of his whole life is subtly upset; a couple’s midnight hunger pangs drive them to hold up a McDonald’s; a woman finds she is irresistible to a small green monster that burrows through her front garden; an insomniac wife wakes up to a twilight world of semi-consciousness in which anything seems possible – even death. In every one of the stories that make up The Elephant Vanishes, Murakami makes a determined assault on the normal. He has a deadpan genius for dislocating realities to uncover the surreal in the everyday, the extraordinary in the ordinary.When I first started reading Murakami I just didn’t get it. It took me a few tries before I could enjoy his surrealistic style and the ambiguous endings. I still think I need to be in the right mood for his stuff but when I am, what fun. I really enjoyed this collection of stories. There was spaghetti, some cats, a couple of missing wives, a dancing dwarf, an elephant factory and Noboru Watanabe showed up a few times, just to mention a few. There are certainly some themes that he can’t seem to help but keep returning to and it was interesting to read the short story that spawned The Wind-up Bird Chronicle. Some of the stories were more realistic but even the more bizarre ones sucked me in from the beginning. His way of describing even the little details made the stories come alive whether of this realm of consciousness or not. This collection had been on my shelves for quite some time. I’m glad I finally got around to reading it and I look forward to reading more by Murakami in the future.
My Rating: 4/5
(#2 for 2008, Japanese Literature Challenge #3, What's in a Name Challenge - 'Animal')