‘The Little Green Monster’ by Haruki Murakami

The Little Green Monster by Haruki Murakami, 1991

The magic trick:

Making a standard theme more interesting by using surrealism

Happy Murakami Friday to you.

Now, this will likely sound like a slight, but it’s really not. Surrealism can be a crutch. It can. That’s just the truth.

Murakami uses it a lot.

Take “The Little Green Monster.” There’s nothing especially interesting about the setup or the theme. Our protagonist sits at home staring out the window everyday after her husband leaves for work. Her life does not seem particularly fulfilling. Her marriage would appear to be doing more harm than good.

But here comes the conflict showing up in the form of a little green monster from out of the ground. The reader is interested and entertained by this odd plot twist. It’s enough to sustain the story’s momentum, even as the theme never grows beyond the initial idea.

So it’s not a slight. It’s a compliment.

And that’s quite a trick on Murakami’s part.

The selection:

The ground near the base of the tree began to bulge upward as if some thick, heavy liquid were rising to the surface. Again I caught my breath. Then the ground broke open and the mounded earth crumbled away to reveal a set of sharp claws. My eyes locked onto them, and my hands turned into clenched fists. Something’s going to happen, I said to myself. It’s starting now. The claws scraped hard at the soil, and soon the break in the earth was an open hole, from which there crawled a little green monster.

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