Tokyo Cancelled Rana Dasgupta

ISBN: 9780007182121



Tokyo Cancelled  by  Rana Dasgupta

Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta
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Three words for the author: lose the magic.Oh, and the sex. OK, that’s six words. Not as dramatic. Can’t be helped.Lose the magic. I really wanted to like this book, because I saw the author speak and he said a lot of things I agree with about the negative effects of ”writing what you know”, for example, all those tedious novels and short stories about unhappy English professors and unhappy participants in graduate school writing seminars.

I was disappointed because I wanted to see this opinion fleshed out in an effective manner. I was doubly disappointed because this book also seemed to come with a promising High Concept (a series of stories told by people waiting in an airport to pass the time), which would allow the author to be able to show off his stylistic chops by writing in an entertaining variety of voices.But, alas, all the stories are told in the same ”once upon a time” voice, which is OK the first or second time but loses interest on the fifth or sixth appearance.

Even the plots have a certain sameness about them, as they all start out within one standard deviation of normal and get progressively more bizarre, with magical and/or grotesque elements introduced to no apparent purpose or internal consistency except, sometimes, to get the author out of the narrative corner he’s written himself into. An example: in one story, the author for narrative purposes needs to get a Turkish girl from the Turkey to Germany.

Presumably to avoid getting sidetracked on a lot of unimportant details about visas, he says that she came through a magical underground hole from Turkey to Germany, which is apparently unknown to anyone else, before and after, and is not used or mentioned again.Please take my word for it that there are many further examples of this type of thing.I’ve read the second novel by this same writer.

Like this one, the introduction of fantasy elements sent the story completely off the rails. I’d love to see this writer try something completely based in observable lived experience, meaning, no convenient magic tunnels. Not even one.And the sex. I thought that the brother-sister incest early in the book would be the most cringe-worthy sex scene. I had underestimated the author because, later on, there is a scene between Robert DeNiro and a Chinese laundress, and, after that, there is a scene between a Japanese entrepreneur and the sex doll he constructs out of prosthetic body parts, both of which are even sillier.

It is difficult to tell why these scenes take place. Are they supposed to showcase the writer’s ability? Did the publisher cynically demand sex scenes to boost sales? Perhaps scenes like this were designed with the intention of shocking me out of my bourgeois complacency, but be assured that my bourgeois complacency, made of very durable materials indeed, continues to envelope me like a great comfortable fuzzy blanket.I probably appear to be some sort of decrepit killjoy, taking mean-spirited pleasure in bashing a writer’s uninhibited creativity.

I can only reply: that’s ”Mister Killjoy” to you, friend.

Enter the sum

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