‘Shot of Short’ #39: Looking for the Elephant by Jo Kyung Ran

Title: Looking for the Elephant by Jo Kyung Ran
Date Read: 12 June 2009
Available Online?: YES (as one of the stories posted by Harper Perennial on their website Fifty-Two Stories, which promises a new (or classic) short story from their collection, posted every week throughout 2009)
Briefly: The narrator reminisces on life, a life in which her family and family events take centre stage. Despite being surrounded by her kinfolk the narrator comes across as lonely, that is until she begins getting called upon by a very unusual visitor.
Afterthoughts: I don’t know how typical the portrait of South Korean family life that this story paints, really is (I’m hoping not too typical because it’s rather sad at times), but regardless it provides a nice little snapshot into a different culture, and one that’s wholly centred on the family. I was disappointed that the story didn’t end as strongly as it started, and that the author seems to use the latter half more as a stream of consciousness exercise, but that doesn’t make this a bad story by any stretch. In fact the poetic quality of Jo Kyung Ran’s prose at times is startling (in a good way).
Notable Quote: “Suddenly, I feel the sensation of someone gently holding my hand. I wake with a start. The room is dark. The warmth lingers on my palm. I try flexing the fingers of the hand that dangles from the bed. I feel like somebody sneaked in—he’s lying on the floor or sitting at the foot of the bed, not even a tremor of movement. But I don’t even consider leaping out of bed or quickly snapping on the light. For some reason I don’t think it would be right.”

Rating: ★★★☆☆

*Story read as part of my 100 Shots of Short reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).