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The Monkey Did It


Discussed in this essay:

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, by Haruki Murakami. Knopf. 386 pages. $29.95.

There is a shape with the unusual property of having a finite volume but an infinite surface area. It’s sometimes called Torricelli’s Trumpet, after the mathematician who first described it, but it is more commonly known as Gabriel’s Horn: an instrument with a bell that narrows continually into an infinitely long body. The fiction of Haruki Murakami, which seems at times marvelously simple, embodies this same barely fathomable shape — a perfectly contained sublime.

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is a contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. Her story collection, American Innovations, was published in May by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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