“Hopeful monsters” are genetically abnormal organisms that, nonetheless, adapt and survive in their environments. In these devastating stories, the hopeful monsters in question are those who will not be tethered by familial duty nor bound by the ghosts of their past.
Home becomes fraught, reality a nightmare as Hiromi Goto weaves her characters through tales of domestic crises and cultural dissonance. They are the walking wounded—a mother who is terrified by a newborn daughter who bears a tail; a “stinky girl” who studies the human condition in a shopping mall; a family on holiday wih a visiting grandfather who cannot abide their “foreign” nature. But wills are a force unto themselves, and Goto’s characters are imbued with the light of myth and magic-realism. With humor and keen insight, Goto makes the familiar seem strange, and deciphers those moments when the idyllic skews into the absurd and the sublime.
From “Stinky Girl”:
The unbearable voices of mythic manatees, the cry of the phoenix, the whispers of kappa lovers beside a gurgling stream. The voice of the moon that is ever turned away from our gaze, the song of suns colliding. The sounds which permeate from my skin on such a level of intensity that mortal senses recoil, deflect beauty into ugliness as a way of coping. And my joy. Such incredible joy. The hairs on my arms stand electric, the static energy and the heat amplifies my smell/sound with such exponential dizzying intensity, that the plastic which surrounds me bursts apart, falls away from my being like an artificial cocoon.
I hover, twenty feet in the air.
Hiromi Goto is the author of the novels Chorus of Mushrooms (winner of a Commonwealth Writers Prize and co-winner of the Canada-Japan Book Award) and The Kappa Child (winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award). She lives in Burnaby, British Columbia.