sharif78, May 20, 2007 (view all comments by sharif78)
The Elephant Vanishes (1993) is a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami, one of the most popular writers in Japan. I enjoyed it more than After the Quake. I haven't read any of his novels yet.
Murakami's style is very simple with a lighthearted tone yet he could paint a complex picture. While reading, I always expect he would explain certain things, but he never does, leaves the reader in a limbo. But that's his style, not the typical conflict-crisis-resolution format. One of my favorite stories is The Second Bakery Attack, in which a husband and wife hold up a McDonald's and steal 30 hamburgers, grilled for takeout, although the manager offers them money instead. The husband thought he was under a curse, when he robbed a bakery years ago. After they got married, the wife suggested that to get out of the curse he needs to rob another bakery. They could not find a bakery open after 2am, so McDonald's was the closest thing they can find, not a bakery but they have bread. Another one I liked was Lederhosen, very offbeat. Murakami shows how a pair of shorts could lead to the divorce of a long-married Japanese couple.
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by Chicago Tribune,
"These are beautifully written stories, often funny, always moving."
by David Leavitt, The New York Times Book Review,
"These stories...are warm with life, hopelessly — and, I would add, wonderfully — unstable."
by Washington Post Book World,
"A world-class writer who takes big risks....If Murakami is the voice of a generation...then it is the generation of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"A seamless melding of Japanese cultural nuances with universal themes in a virtuoso story collection....Remarkable evocations of a postmodernist world, superficially indifferent but transformed by Murakami's talent into a place suffused with a yearning for meaning."
by Village Voice Literary Supplement,
"Eerie, unsettling....[A] wonderful combination of the bizarre and the mundane."
"Murakami is one of the great Japanese masters, and his style is sexy, funny, mysterious, and always coolly deadpan."
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