2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Tokyo Cancelled (Paperback)
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From incestuous dwarves to pulling tapeworms of excrement from people's throats, Dasgupta's "fairytales" are frequently unsettling, and always bizarre. The premise is that 13 stranded passengers tell each other stories while waiting for their flight to Tokyo, but the passengers are just whispers, or a transparent membrane as they don't feature, at all. A paragraph or so is spent delineating each story, and then we're off to some other city, where something else unsettling happens.
There were one or two that really had a kernel of something interesting - The Doll (story 8) and The Memory Editor (story 2) - but the nihilism and joylessness still managed to creep into both, dragging them down to the same level as the other 10. 10 because, somehow, the first story actually had something a little special. It's just a story of a tailor and, again, it has no Happy Ending, but its ending is quiet, and acceptable and compared to all the others, it's almost a breath of fresh air.
There's no doubt that Dasgupta can write - he clearly loves words, and he loves using them to communicate his ideas; and there's no doubt that the fantastic and imaginative are wonderful things in a world so clogged with cookie-cutter entertainment. But, somehow, you come away from reading it with the belief that there's really very little that's good in the world; like everything is grey, and dirty and hopeless.
It took me over 2 months to slog through this as I abjectly despised it for the first few weeks. Having forced myself to finish it, I can't say I'm particularly overjoyed, particularly as the best (for some reason) story is the first one - but it's impossible to read all the way through without becoming slightly fond of it. It's not something I'll ever read again, but one or two of the characters have stayed with me, and that has to mean something.