The Elephant Vanishes

I am told that it’s World Book Day this week. As Charles Dickens said, “These vazey mutton shumpers need to put down the pie and pick up a book!” Okay, I don’t know for a fact that he said that, but since he was a working writer I’m confident he thought it. 


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I wanted to make a recommendation, as I don’t think World Book Day should just be encouraging the world to read a book. It should also encourage existing readers to read outside their normal comfort zones. Don’t worry, it won’t be a radical suggestion. No mutton shumping, at least.

Haruki Murakami is a Japanese literary writer, one-time jazz club owner and general dude who writes, and obviously listens to, a lot of classical music. Although Japanese, his sensibilities are more modern than Nihon-centric. He lists many western writers among his influences and it shows.

The writing certainly captures Japanese cultural themes, but ones that overlap with most of the developed world. The result is a literary perspective that is as global as it is modern, at least among urban nations.

Although he has been prolific I would start with his translated short story collection, The Elephant Vanishes. He weaves between the surreal and the mundane and sometimes juxtaposes them while occasionally dipping into magical realism emphasising the loneliness and impossibility of being truly alone in the world.

The opening story, The Wind Up Bird and Tuesday’s Women, is one of my favorites in all of short fiction. 

Read it.


Leto was born in a crossfire hurricane, or at least that was what he believed until his parents told him he fell asleep in the car listening to the Rolling Stones too much. Somewhere after that, he accidentally got an education while reading.

He has played D&D with one of its inventors, learned archery from Buddhist monks, and is no longer allowed legal entry to three ex-Eastern Block countries. Sorry, Sascha.

Deciding that he should combine his experiences with cooking, information technology, strippers, and stroking women’s hair while they fall asleep, Leto realized writing was the only reasonable path forward.

Today he lives in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area with cats, dogs, and humans who seem to like him despite actually knowing him. He prefers to write on his back deck listening to birds as he writes romance, erotica, and weird fiction.


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