i went and bought the elephant vanishes.
it was a spur of the moment thing. tj sent me this email round table thing in which jay rubin, philip gabriel, and gary fisketjon talk about translating and editing murakami, and they referenced the elephant vanishes quite a bit.
so i went down to unity and got it.
i was actually looking for hardboiled wonderland and end of the world, but they were out. i shouldn’t have spent the money anyway, but i ended up buying the elephant vanishes and then ordering hardboiled wonderland, too.
it’s fantastic and hurtful in the absolute best way possible. i bought it yesterday and i’m nearly finished. the stories have such range and variation, and so much emotion. even working in the short story medium murakami still manages to achieve his wonderful world-creation that i love so much.
stories like the wind-up bird and tuesday’s women fill me with joy, especially at the intricate descriptions of surroundings:
the spring sun cuts clean and crisp through the ceiling of overhanging branches, scattering patches of shadow across the ground. with no wind, the shadows stay glued in place like fateful stains. telltale stains sure to cling to the earth as it goes around and around the sun for millennia to come.
most of them don’t bring closure, either, and that’s wonderful. sleep terrified me, and i loved it. on seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful april morning made me cry. others did, too.
murakami’s work always has that somewhat personal feel - there are enough recurring elements to tell that it’s based off something. but his work sometimes feels intensely dispersonal, like something that couldn’t possibly have been created by a mere person.
these stories aren’t like that. they’re the most intimate ones i’ve read yet. a few of them seem to be from his actual point of view - though it’s hard to tell, it might as well be a character.
the stories cover the mundane, but they totally ignore it, too. they go beyond the mundane, and they don’t rely on a completed narrative. he has a thought to express, and that’s all that matters.
that’s how i’ve been writing recently. often, it doesn’t feel valid, like it’s a waste. it’s nice to know how beautiful this kind of writing can be.
this is a collection of stories i feel like i need to recommend to everyone. the kind of book i force on people - i think sam did this for a while with high fidelity (and thank the gods he did, because that book was an important read for me, but that’s another post). i feel like if people read this, or read a story from this, and like it or feel they “get” it then i’ll have reason to continue. i don’t know with what - perhaps talking to them, perhaps something entirely different.
find a copy and read it. it’s worthwhile. if you can’t, at least try find and read sleep and barn burning and on seeing the 100% perfect girl one beautiful april morning and the fall of the roman empire, the 1881 indian uprising, hitler’s invasion of poland, and the realm of raging winds.
all the stories are worthwhile. they all moved me. these ones in particular i loved unconditionally.