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Lala Pipo [Paperback]

Hideo Okuda

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Book Description

July 22 2008
"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 thateven 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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vertical (July 22 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934287210
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934287217
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 17.9 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #783,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

“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).

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating novel of contemporary japanese life! July 29 2008
By Samuel C. Newhouse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book really changed my life. It gave me a whole new perspective on the relationship between Japanese and American culture. In such a thoroughly postmodern novel, which emphasizes misinterpretation and misunderstanding between different sections of humanity, we see a fascinating portrayal of the forces that push and pull on people and in fact, organize entire societies. Reminded me of the work of one of my favorite Japanese novelists, Riyu Murakami. In the end, "Lala Pipo" or "A Lot of People" evolves into a disorderly celebration of humanity. Fabulous translation job, as well.

Buy it - it will open your eyes and give you plenty to think about!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Dirty but Not Sexy Book - Solid Japanese Lit Sept. 9 2008
By Geoffrey Kleinman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lala Pipo is a very dirty book. It's got a strange fascination with the entanglement of ordinary people and extraordinarily perverted sex. But Lala Pipo isn't a pornographic book per se, it's intent is more to explore than excite. Told in a series of interweaving stories Lala Pipo follows several very lonely people as they try to connect to the world around them. Their intersection with others often happens sexually and almost always has an unhappy ending.

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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Despair and Hope in Japan Nov. 19 2009
By Vincent Poirier - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I've always been bothered by the myth that Japanese are unemotional robots. They don't give in to public displays of emotions but that's because they prefer to show reserve. Wearing one's heart on one's sleeve is deemed immature here but that doesn't mean Japanese people don't have a heart bursting with hope and despair and the two books reviewed below show this.

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
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast, sharp and deceptively simple July 28 2008
By Miera S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lala Pipo's deceptively simple, pop style packs some carefully measured and meted surprises. Tarantino meets O. Henry with each punch-in-the-face plot twist. This is clever, fast reading that haunts long after it's been taken in. I was shocked in all the right places by this unorthodox, underground view of Japan.
4.0 out of 5 stars Sex and disillusionment Nov. 22 2010
By Graham Griffith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The overt sexual content in 'Lala Pipo' sometimes overshadows the twisted pursuit of fortune and happiness in the novel. And although I wasn't really rooting for any of the mostly-unlikable and pathetic characters, I did enjoy the way the author tied it all together in the end. Even the most prudish members of my book club agreed that it was a compelling read.

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