Lala Pipo Paperback – Jul 22 2008
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“Lala Pipo deftly mixes satire with farce, comedy with tragedy, and eroticism with social commentary. At times, the book reads like a fusion of The Usual Suspects and Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s “In a Grove”... The subject matter is not used for titillation and is not pornography, per se. Hideo Okuda gives us a fresh approach to the sleazy side of Tokyo, showing us the seedy parts of Shibuya beyond the shopping centers. Lala Pipo is a well-written, humorous and timely book.” —The Japan Times
“These human monsters, it turns out, could be as American as you or I, and their secret lives look distressingly familiar. Okuda successfully taps into the creep inside us all.” —The Stranger (Seattle)
"Spattered with all-engrossing, and admittedly often arousing, graphic tales of sexual exploits throughout, Lala Pipo proves a very dirty, gritty, underground tale of something very very real."--Kotori Magazine
“For this sort of thing, really quite good.”—The Complete Review
"There are no likable characters to be found here, but their horrible lives and the disastrous decisions are what keep the plot moving and the reader ensnared." --The Book Zombie
"For people who think literature shouldn't shy away from dealing with the sexual relationships between people Lala Pipo is worth checking out. I found it to be a well written, engaging and entertaining book."
--Gkleinman, Library Thing Review
"This book is a lot of dark and sexy fun. It reminded me of one of my favorite films, "Requiem for a Dream" but had a bit more of a sense of humor, and was about sexuality, not drug addiction." --John Thomas, Mecha Mecha Media
About the Author
Hideo Okuda was born in 1959. His first novel was published in 1998 after he worked as a magazine editor, planner, and copywriter. He is now one of the most popular authors of entertainment novels in Japan, known for his comical portrayals of people at all levels of society.
In 2002, he won the Oyabu Haruhiko Award for hardboiled and adventure novels for JAMA (Annoyance), and in 2004, he won the Naoki Prize (Japanese equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize) for Kuchu Buranko (The Flying Trapeze).
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Buy it - it will open your eyes and give you plenty to think about!
Author Hideo Okuda does a fantastic job of weaving these short stories into a cohesive whole. Rather than a book of six short stories Lala Pipo is a complete novel where each character gets their own complete storyline and several events are seen from more than one perspective.
If you're easily offended by sexuality then obviously Lala Pipo won't be for you, but for people who think literature shouldn't shy away from dealing with the sexual relationships between people Lala Pipo is worth checking out. I found it to be a well written, engaging and entertaining book.
DESPAIR: A review of Lala Pipo
Lala Pipo follows six people living near the Shibuya district of Tokyo. They are losers, plain and simple; they seek to fill the emptiness of their lives with loveless sex. They don't even crave sex as a sport, they crave it as a means to happiness.
We follow a young recluse who can't relate to people who has a porn scout living in the apartment above his and is ashamed that he can only get a fat girlfriend. The novel then shifts to the porn scout as approaches girls to place them in hostess bars getting a cut of their pay, hoping to get one who'll agree to do porn so that he can get a cut of that. Next we follow one of the porn stars he manages, a 43 year old woman who is totally disconnected from her family and in despair gets a neighbor to set fire to her house. We then follow the arsonist, a poor unassertive young man who works in a karaoke bar that doubles up as a brothel. We then follow a brothel patron, a prolific writer of erotic novels. He is prolific because he dictates his novels and has the tapes professionally transcribed. He aspires to write literature but instead meets his middle age crisis by paying for sex with high school girls. The novel loops to a close with the story of Sayuri, the girl who transcribes the writer's tapes, and who turns out to be the fat girlfriend of the first chapter's recluse.
All these people are pathetic losers and looking at their lives, I felt I was looking at a peep show. Sayuri isn't quite the victim the others are, she has no delusions about her life and accepts to play the hand she was dealt. She betters herself, but her approach to life is ultimately as cynical as that of the others.
Depressing? And then some. What saves the book is a willingness to look at the consequences of cynicism. This is not some facile polemic work decrying the evils of the sex industry in Japan; it is a reminder that the people in that industry are not so different from ourselves and that the despair can have tragic consequences.
HOPE: A review of Love Letters at Sixty
This is a charming little book that presents a selection of love letters by people in their sixties to their spouses. It presents in the rawest way what many older men and women worry about and how they feel about each other.
Many of the letters are simple expressions of gratitude to the spouse for having been by their side all these years. Men thank their wives for having cooked and kept house for them, while wives thanked their husbands for having slaved away their lives in an office 16 hours a day for forty years.
The most poignant story was a couple who thirty years before had lost their ten year old son to heart failure. The woman cried and cried and took over two years to get back to a semblance of a normal life. The father stood by her, solid as ever and she resented him for not sharing her grief. When she again started feeling that life offered hope for happiness, he caught her smiling. At that moment a pensive look appeared on his face and he looked sad. The wife asked her husband what was wrong he replied that he was thinking of their dead son. The wife flew into a rage: now you are crying? Only now, after two years you start to cry? You unfeeling bastard, I hate you. The husband apologized to her and replied that he had to be strong for her sake, that he had to be a rock for her, and now that happiness was slowly returning, he felt he could allow himself to grieve. The wife broke down and realized how wrong she had been to hate her husband and fell in love with him all over again. The whole situation is unmistakably Japanese, but who could say that there are no feelings?
Someone I know left Japan after living here many years, saying that she found no love in this country. This book proves her wrong.
A final word
Both of these books were unfortunately made into bad movies. Love Letters at Sixty (the movie) replaced the raw honest innocence of the book with maudlin over-the-top sentimentality. Lala Pipo (the movie) did away with the pathos of the book and turned the work into a burlesque sex comedy.
Vincent Poirier, Tokyo