‘Dabchick’ by Haruki Murakami


Dabchick by Haruki Murakami, 1981

The magic trick:

Setting up a great absurdist comedy scene

To say this story is Kafka-esque is to minimize the meaning of the “esque” portion of the term. It is Kafka pure and plain right on down to the bureaucratic password that blocks the protagonist from his job. But hey, how many among us can bring to life Kafka in such a convincing fashion? Not many.

One of the main tricks I associate with Kafka is the ability to find humor in the terror of the mundane. The aforementioned password generates a hilarious conversation here between the protagonist and the doorman. The protagonist is left to guess the password based on hints. He then argues that his guess meets the conditions of the hints and is therefore correct, even as he is told it is not the password. The whole thing is absurd and maddening and very, very funny. And that’s quite a trick on Murakami’s part.

The selection:

“It’s got to be ‘dabchick,’” I insisted. “The little palm-sized dabchicks taste so bad you couldn’t get a dog to eat one.”

“Hey, wait a minute,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you say: ‘dabchick’ is not the password. You can argue all you want, but you’ve got the wrong word.”

“But it fits all the clues – connected with water, fits in your hand, you can’t eat it, eight letters. It’s perfect.”

“There’s just one thing wrong.”

“What’s that?”

“’Dabchick’ is not the password.”

As always, join the conversation in the comments section below, on SSMT Facebook or on Twitter @ShortStoryMT.

Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s