The Elephant Talks to God is an endearing collection of whimsical tales in which a young elephant forages for answers to that age-old existential puzzle: What is the meaning of life? In this new edition of Dale Estey’s best-selling book, this pachyderm philosopher asks questions and God answers -- sometimes cryptically, sometimes humorously but always with love and patience. The answers unfold in a series of conversations between this humble, though occasionally impertinent, beast and the Almighty. The free-ranging exchanges between the two include contributions from butterflies, fish, various monkeys, an annoyed lion and one silent toucan bird. This sweet, sometimes satirical, and occasionally moving story will appeal to readers of all ages. The book includes most of the original stories from the popular 1989 collection as well as many new ones. Original, fresh and unsentimental, The Elephant Talks to God belongs on the bookshelves of anyone who, just like the inquisitive elephant, has ever wondered about life, love and the true nature of happiness.
Dale gives an overview of the book:
The elephant was a curious pachyderm, and followed his persistent quest with a guileless intensity.
"More lucky than smart," said some of the other elephants, as he blundered his way toward another piece of knowledge. They nodded their heads in his direction with the heavy weight of caution, and warned their small ones that too much thought would make them strange.
"An elephant wades in water," they would sagely say, "only if the mud hole is wide enough."
And the little ones would watch him, as they stood between the legs of their parents, and wish that they could follow.
The elephant was on his side in the river, where he had flopped without much ceremony beside the boulder.
He raised his left front and his left hind leg into the air, and his trunk trailed in the current like an eel. He sloshed water over the exposed parts of his body with an erratic fortissimo.
"So." The elephant gulped water. "Explain fish to me."
"I beg your pardon." The boulder sputtered, for it had been caught in the back spray.
"Fish," said the elephant. "Marine animals; sub-aquatic creatures; denizens of the deep: puffers, scuppers, suckers, guppies, herring, flounder, anchovies -- "
"An elephant," interrupted God, "has many attributes. But very low on this mammoth list is the ability to be cute." The boulder paused significantly. "So get to the point."
"When you're ponderous, it's known as being profound," pointed out the elephant.
"I'm the Creator, so I get to make the rules," pointed out God. "So. What is it with the fish?"
"Well - they're so weird. They look strange, they're poor
conversationalists, they breath in water, and they choke on air." The elephant finally scrambled to his feet. "And they never stay still. It's always `moving with the current', or `moving against the current'. I mean no disrespect, and we're all God's creatures,
but - they're real losers."
"I wonder," asked the boulder, after a moment's thought, "if you've heard about the group of blind men asked to describe an elephant."
"No," said the elephant. "I haven't."
"Each man touched a different part."
As God began, he raised his voice for the benefit of the fish, who were ranged in concentric circles around the oblivious elephant. They were going to enjoy this.
The elephant rolled disconsolately in the dust, covering himself in a fine powder.
He snorted and mumbled through his trunk, and a dust cloud settled over him like a canopy. He sighed, and coughed, and rubbed his knees into the dirt.
"I'm bored," he said.
"How can you be bored in this?" The dusk cloud helped rub the irritants out of the elephant's skin. "This is pleasant."
"It's the same old thing," said the elephant. "Foraging, and eating, and dust baths, and jungle." He flopped onto his other side, making the dusk cloud rise into the air. "I want something different."
"Not any particular thing," said the elephant. "Just something else. Something which I don't have."
"That's rather unfocused," said God.
"Well. It's rather difficult to be focused in this." The elephant coughed to prove his point.
"With your imagination." The dust cloud stirred itself into the dark of night. "If you can't create the things you want, perhaps you don't deserve them."
"That's easy for the Creator to say."
The Creator in question suddenly settled all the dust at the elephant's feet.
"Look around you. There the sun rises, and there the sun sets. That way are the mountains, that way is the sea. Every river, every grassland, every tree, and every path is teeming with life and adventure. And the promise of something you have never experienced before."
"Your point?" asked the elephant.
"Your move," said God.
I owe my life to Hitler, though I never met the man. My father was paid to stop Hitler, so there is no conflict of interest. I was given a thunk on the back o' the head by God when I was fifteen, and within a week began to write. I haven't stopped. My first novel was accepted...
REVIEW OF FIRST EDITION:
Dale Estey's The Elephant Talks to God is, first and foremost, a witty, satirical book about the relationship between mortals and an immortal creator. Some inner clues make...