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Book: Lala Pipo by Hideo Okuda

Publisher: Vertical, Inc.

Furnished by: LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers Program

On Sale Date: August 2008

Publisher’s Description: “‘This sleazy novel is not recommendable for ladies and gentlemen.’ So reads the jacket of the Japanese edition of this collection of six dark, interrelated, tragicomic chapters dealing with themes of desire, inadequacy, and failure, using the underbelly of sex as its canvas. As misheard by one of the characters, ‘a lot of people,’ is ‘Lala Pipo.’

Lala Pipo is an ingenious tapestry of absurdity, whose cast of unlikable characters cross the line of good taste that even those who have crossed the line cannot help but notice. Each act pushes the envelope past the one preceding it. It’s like an episode of Seinfeld directed by Bob Guccione, all the story elements cleverly weaving together, taking the reader from shock to gut-busting hilarity with each tale. The main difference: these losers are X-rated.”

Rating: 2 stars (out of 5)

Review: I was pretty disappointed in this book, to be honest. After reading the description given by the publisher, I expected Lala Pipo to be a bit upbeat, perhaps a touch witty, since it’s described as being similar to Seinfeld with a sexy twist. However, the only way this novel relates to the show is that a bunch of random characters’ stories seem to gel together at the end of the novel. The rest is a depressing look at a tiny, desperate corner of Tokyo.

The plot revolves around 6 central characters, all of whom have quite a bit in common: mainly, the pathetic, lonely existences the each live out. Completely removed from almost all contact with the outside world because of their own blunders, each character becomes suddenly overwhelmed by their secret sexual desires, quickly letting these fetishes consume their entire lives. By the end of their stories, each character has given up all sense of morality or self-esteem and have been reduced to living only to feed their animal desires. By the end of the book, most of the characters are dead and nobody really cares.

So really, it’s kind of like a poorly-written, Japanese version of Hamlet. Not really my cup of tea.