Reading THE ELEPHANT VANISHES

Self has lined up three Haruki Murakami short story collections to read, in the following order:

A few months ago, she read her first entire Murakami book, his novel Norwegian Wood.  Yeah, yeah, she knows:  she’s about 15 years behind the times.

Now, she’s about to return The Elephant Vanishes to the Redwood City Library, having read only to p. 153 (the first two pages of a story called “The Little Green Monster” which is, just as the title says, about a little green monster.  How self hates it when great story titles turn out to be literal rather than ironic!  It’s as if Franz Kafka had called his story:  “How Gregor Samsa Turns Into a Gigantic Bug” instead of “Metamorphosis”)

The first story (“The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday’s Women”) was mysterious and lovely. The second (“The Second Bakery Attack”) was sort of stupid but would probably make an excellent Jim Jarmusch movie. The third (“The Kangaroo Communique”) was simply incomprehensible, but contained some very interesting facts about the sex lives of kangaroos. The fourth (“On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning”) reminded self of that oh-so-emo James Blunt hit of a few years back, “You’re Beautiful”.  The fifth, “Sleep,” was like a Yukio Mishima story, only four times as long. The fifth (“The Fall of the Roman Empire, the 1881 Indian Uprising, Hitler’s Invasion of Poland, and the Realm of Raging Winds”) had a really, really great title, and “Lederhosen” was — now what was that story about? Darn if self knows, and she just finished reading it this morning!

“Barn Burning” was perhaps Murakami’s anti-Faulkner story. Self can imagine Murakami saying, “I’m going to write a story that spits in the eye of that southern dude who Americans think walks on water!” Well, OK, it was pretty funny. The next story, the one at which self had to cry, “Stop!” was the one about the little green monsters. If only nothing had happened to the old oak tree, and the female narrator had remained looking at it all day long. Now that would have been a story.

One thing self knows for sure after reading this far into The Elephant Vanishes (which she might try finishing anyway):  Murakami has a real thing for cooking spaghetti.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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