After reading When the Emperor was Divine, my silly self was expecting this book to follow similar literary patterns. At the very least, I was expecting it to be as realistic, as tangible, as the last. Admittedly both assigned for an Asian American literature course, I expected this Japanese novel to touch on the concerns of identity and race in the same way. Then I started reading.
I immediately forgot all expectations for the book as I laughed my way through several pages of the main character’s ramblings while he was stuck in an elevator. When he finally got out of the elevator (which happens on page six), I realized I was in a noir-esque story, following the hard-boiled “detective” character through what was a not-so-typical workday. Then I got to chapter two. The even-numbered chapters of this book are an entirely different universe. There is a town called The End of the World, a forest filled with unspeakable creatures and unicorns, and a man who goes to the library to read dreams out of unicorn skulls.
Throughout the whole book, the chapters alternate between these two worlds, these two different characters, and their lives and stories. They are both fascinating and engaging, yet have little direct connection to each other—at first. The book is a fantastical, noir-esque trek through human consciousness and the life and mind of a Japanese man with a passion for American frivolities and pop culture icons. I realize that this makes little sense. Reading the book is near about the only way to make sense of it. That being said, it is definitely worth reading.