[Book Experience] The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

The Elephant VanishesThe Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami

My overall rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, instead of writing an elaborate review, I’ll share my experience while reading this short story collection.
First one is The Wind up Bird…,, a really sexy short story with cat hunting and beer drinking. Just like that. Nothing more. The guy has got an offer to have a sex chat being married. He is so confused that he has gone to search their missing cat. Then he meets a girl, whose voice matches with the sex chat voice, but really can not find any other proof. And like this story ends with determination of not to have a sex chat. It’s okay. 3 out of 5 kind.
Then comes The second bakery attack. It is an uncanny story on inner hunger. Very funny. Quite okay. 3.5/5
Next is The kangaroo Communique, a love letter to a customer a salesman but full of funny logic. Good one but not fantastic. 3/5
Then there is On seeing a 100% perfect girl…, it’s also a story about small sweet fictional love proposal which I really have liked. Nice one. 3.5/5
Here comes Sleep . I’ve lot to say about this one. In my opinion this could have been one the greatest stories by Murakami. But sadly, it’s an wasted opportunity. This one is about a woman who losses her sleep and was quite normal health wise, utilizing all the 24 hours of her days. She mostly spends the times reading the mammoth Anna Karenina again and again and driving late at night. Now this could have been ended in a great way, but it has ended suddenly, like in middle. It seems a very artistic way of ending a story, but this story demands to have a proper ending. But alas! Murakami and his weirdness. What can we do! So it gets 3/5.
Then comes few similarly ‘nothing-happens’ and ‘no-point-made’ stories, like Barn Burning, The fall of Roman empire…, which you just read along and move on to next not feeling anything for it. This kind of stories are trademark of Murakami. They are meant to be enjoyed only. Here, I want to mention three very good stories by Murakami published in The New Yorker magazine. They are namely, Kino (the best one), Yesterday and Scheherazade. They are full of Murakamish themes and theory. I recommend any Murakami fan to read these.

Now, let’s move on to other stories of the book.
There are other good stories like Lederhosen [3/5], The little green monster [4/5](you have to read this one, I won’t spoil anything)
A window is another good story, not much weirdness, thanks to Murakami for the change. 🙂
This review is becoming pretty long and hence I’ll wrap up with the best ones.
THE DANCING DWARF:: This one! My god! This story has saved this book and saved Murakami from my frustration for him. Yes, this is such a good story. Magic realism and proper ending made this story the best of the lot. Rating it 5 on 5.
THE SILENCE: Another non-weird, purely real story. And this one ends with a deep lesson for life. This has moved me genuinely with the life changing lesson it has given me. 4.75 on 5

The last lawn and The elephant vanishes are also good and they are filled with normal Murakamish weirdness.

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By Anirban Nanda

[All the characters used here are fictional. Author has no intention to offend anyone.]

When he was a child, he saw people, including his parents, discarding his well-thought talks. When he went to play with his playmates, no one gave a shit about him. He tried hard, very hard, to hit that six, to get that wicket, to go in top order and get a scope to play more. Most of the times, he was rejected, obviously for his inability to play well.

But sometimes he got one opportunity in a million, one chance to play well and show them that he could play, he was worthy of praises. But it remained a tragedy; he never could do well. Years later, when he will be typing some facebook post, he’d remember how ludicrously he was mocked, how painstakingly he was ignored. He cried in rage at a corner, he screamed in hope that someone would listen. He became an introvert; in fear of rejection, in fear of humiliation ─not from his friends, but from situations which were beyond his control. Years later when he will be falling in love, he’d remember his insulted, tormented face; when he had looked in the mirror in his childhood ─to his lousy and ugly face.

So he had converted his rage, alleviated his frustration to another way; to a path where introverts would do well: to study. Yes, he studied well. He took an oath to become first in every class, every examination. But he failed again. He picked up some praises scattered here and there for his above-average performance. His friends had said, “Someday he is gonna show this world what he is.” They hoped. He hoped. He pushed harder, he tried with more determination. This time he came closer: 4th, 7th. And that’s where he faced stalemate. He never could become third; he always had been losing by millimetres, by inches. Years later, when he will be receiving a second position, he will think how fake those positions are, how unimportant those praises are.

He thought, human is never going to stop wanting. He will always want to be on the other side of river, where people seem happier. These strings of thoughts led him to yet another path. He suddenly wanted to think more. To think more, he went to his lifelong friends: books, novels. Few years later, when he will be writing his first short story, he will think that those authors also felt like him, they were also introverts. The more he read, the more he felt. Too much thinking made his brain full of ideas, emotions, brimming out of it. But as previously was said, he was an introvert and for this, he could not gather courage to express his feelings to anyone.

Meekly, cowardly, he picked up his ball point pen and his old mathematics rough copy. He tried to write his first poem. When he will be sixteen, his heart will beat in the same thunderous way while proposing his first love, as it had beaten when he was composing his first poetry. After finishing it, he peeked at the poem, re-reading in fear, as if he was doing sin, as if he had been caught red-handed for stealing something. He tore that page of poetry in shame. But he was also feeling a strange excitement for being able to create something.

Unknowingly, he became fan of writers like Richard Yates, Sylvia Plath; because he could relate himself with their writing tone, their frustration with their life and their tragic characters. Years later, when he will be publishing his first novel titled, “Me and my solitude” ; none will read his book because it will be too boring to waste their time and he will feel like same when he was writing that facebook post: frustrated and alone. In the end, he will accept the stark reality; that he is a mediocre; always were. Then he will stop dreaming and resign to oblivion. Years later, when he will be taking his last breath, he will mock at his soul, blaming it of its high hopes, of its dissolving into unknown abyss of mortality and he will find a queer similarity of his thoughts when he was writing a facebook post years back.

©Anirban Nanda

Why your story doesn’t have to have a thrilling plot? (Or how a predictive plot can win one’s heart?)

I think it’s worth re-blogging this post. 🙂 Happy reading!


What do you think first while formulating a story? Let me guess:

1. You first think about a theme.

2. Then you think about your characters.

3. Next you think about an awesome ending, or a thrilling twist.

4. You now think about title of your story.

and so on…so forth.

In most of the stories that I have read in recent anthologies; there is a struggle for an interesting twist or plot, or, some stories have twists or ending that have been forcefully inserted. Now this doesn’t have to be the case for every story. If you have a fair story which doesn’t lead to a twisting end naturally; don’t worry, your plot is still good.

Let me tell you a truth: Many authors try to hide their incompleteness of writing ability by introducing interesting twists and turns. And they think readers will ignore the writing style and concentrate…

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RAP(A)-ism ─Anirban Nanda


*Offensive contents may be found.
*It’s a fiction; so are the names.
*No offense intended to any particular person or group or organization.

Year 2020:

He settles himself on the reading desk and opens his laptop which is also called ‘Whackbook’. Renowned-and-popular-author or RAPA is his name, which according to him, is one of the honourable and elite names for someone to be called. Pushing the power button has woken up the electronically advanced, multipurpose, 10 gigahertz core driven and rareOS loaded scientific machine. A bunch of glowing grapes ─which is not bitten─ has glorified the backside of the stylish and glamorous technical masterpiece. Opening his facebook account he sees 100 new notifications and 50 new friend requests. But I was only offline for three hours. He has thought. Then he has stretched his arms yawning in his comfortable chair and closed his eyes. How popular I am! I am the RAPA. He’s then come closer to his whackbook and saw the deadline. Today is the last day for the national level literary contest organised by TALE; The Association of Literary Elites. I must hurry. Then he has placed his hands on his temples and concentrated for few minutes. The short story must be a masterpiece. The prize money is big. It has to be dark and gruesome. People like negative topics.

He has thought for a long time and then started typing the story. This story would be awesome ─acid on face combined with rape. It is the darkest possible story I can write. He’s typed and typed; for hours. After three hours, he has looked at the 5000 word-long story and smiled.

After 15 days:

RAPA updates a status:

Just saw the announcement of the winners in the nationwide competition organised by TALE. And guess what…I WON THE FIRST PRIZE! Thank you so much for your support and likes. Go to the following link to read my story named Dark Life of a Girl. (www.tale.org/contest/dark-life-of-a-girl)

─feeling happy 🙂 .

After updating the status, he has gone to bed and merged himself in the softness of deep slumber.

Few blocks away from RAPA’s house; Dr. Samson Saha (sometimes mocked as Savior in Satan because he charges big for treatment) just has returned from his long day’s work. He’s refreshed himself and watching his watch ticking 2.00AM he has gone to bedroom to join his wife. His wife rarely has the opportunity to watch her husband dine with their family and so she has got used to such routines. Samson enters and smiles at his sleeping wife and then has unhinged the nightgown and walked towards the bed.

Ting Tang Ti Ting! His cell is buzzing. He reluctantly has taken out the phone and stared at the number. It is from emergency department in the government hospital nearby. His wife has woken up and looked at him with half opened eyes. Samson has picked up the phone gazing at his wife. From the other side the voice speaks, “Doctor sa’ab, a girl is just admitted on reference from the local hospital. You have to come now. Someone has thrown acid on her face. Please sir, come quickly.” Samson has cut the phone and looked at his wife tiredly. Wife nods at him understandingly and says, “Go save the girl.”

Ting! Another ‘like’ has buzzed in RAPA’s phone.

MORAL: Writing to stop tortures on women is same as writing “Smoking kills” in a cigarette packet.

©Anirban Nanda