four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
14-Jan-Feb-2005
By: 
Ray Loriga
user_rating: 
0

A-TokyoDoesntLoveAn anonymous narrator is peddling a chemical product called STM (short-term memory eroder) to clients with memories they wish to forget. His employer, the Company, requires constant blood tests to ensure the staff is not partaking in the drug. With this narrator, every action is suspect. Anonymous sex and increasing drug use propel this story, as the narrator travels from Arizona to Tokyo and the exotic ports in between. How much has he erased? How much is he hiding?
Grove/Atlantic Press. 260 pages. $12. ISBN: 0802141471

San Diego Union-Tribune 4 of 5 Stars
"The chapters are mostly long, mostly linear, but their titles make them seem as if this is a collection of stories—as it is, but it’s also a strangely integrated, strangely effective novel. Memorable phrase and lyrical passages abound; the writing is often so pithy and thought-provoking I couldn’t resist interrupting anyone nearby to share a sentence or two aloud." Jim Hopper

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Other authors whose influence this writer clearly feels—Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, Kurt Vonnegut—might have played this twist as action or satire, and that would have made a clever novel, but Loriga bravely ignores cleverness. ... His inventions reveal a despair at the heart of humanity …" Andrew Sean Greer

New Internationalist 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[It’s] an ambitious and demanding novel which fuses a witty and scathing attack on consumerism with a meditation on the crucial role memory plays in raising us above bestial self-gratification." Vanessa Baird

NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The book is part crime novel, part political allegory, part love story—Loriga, to his credit, never quite commits to any of these modes. … From the insufficiency of a single line of cocaine (‘It leaves you like a Christ held up by only one nail’) to the way tourists have ‘the annoying habit of greeting other tourists in the same obligatory way as soldiers greet other soldiers,’ we get a jaded point of view inventive enough to be worth peering through." Sam Lipsyte

Critical Summary

Bleak and hallucinogenic, Loriga’s tale, published five years ago in Spain, follows a similar outline to ones used by William Burroughs, J.G. Ballard, and Philip K. Dick before him, not to mention Charlie Kaufman’s screenplay Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Critics praise Loriga’s ability to piece together a story that threatens to fall apart at any moment. Although it’s tough to connect to the anonymous narrator, the author "adds romantic yearning and original wit to an increasingly ubiquitous figure" (The New York Times). A secondary plotline involving a vigilante group fails on several levels, but that can be overlooked. Now SF fans have another despairing anti-hero to emulate.