ever have someone tell you to stand up straight? look you in the eye when they're talking?

The Elephant Vanishes

The Elephant Vanishes
Haruki Murakami
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“The Elephant Vanishes” is a collection of subtly odd, twisting stories where the quirks and kinks of life aren’t looked upon as burdens, rather as just another way of being. A young couple, aching with hunger, decide to rob a McDonald’s of burgers and Cokes to assuage their conscience—and appetite. Reduced people deliver Sony TV’s into apartments and offices—uninvited—but yet people refuse to acknowledge them or their televisions. A dancing dwarf is wanted by the leaders of a revolution, for crimes no one remembers or understands.

While often surrealist themes may be viewed as an attempt to escape reality, Murakami’s stories are firmly rooted it the concrete here and now. In “Family Affair” an adult brother and sister, who share an apartment, struggle with the comfort and familiarity they’ve shared since birth because of the uncomfortable life choices they make as adults just to get by and succeed. In this way, Murakami’s work is very Japanese, viewing things as themselves, not as a human interpretation. Oddity is just another piece of life. Not something to necessarily celebrate, but nothing that should be swept under the rug.

“The Elephant Vanishes” passed the “two day test.” Meaning, it was a book that I found so riveting, I couldn’t put it down until I finished it, which usually takes two days. Murakami’s capacity to couple the uncanny with the mundane and create a product of great capacity and interest shows are a great testament to his unique talent. Beauty is found everywhere, if we just learn to look at it right.

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