A review of

Tokyo Doesn’t Love Us Anymore

by Ray Loriga

Central question: What if you could forget the worst things that happened to you?
Format: 256 pp., paperback; Size: 8.3” x 5.4”; Price: $12.00; Publisher: Grove; Editor: Lindsay Sagnette; Book designer: Brendan MacNeill; Age at which author published first book: twenty-three; Cover typeface: Franklin Gothic Semicondensed; Catalyst for novel: Author’s own epileptic episodes; Representative sentence: “Apparently, the woman had never forgotten before and those who have never forgotten can’t hide the fear that there’s something devilish in our chemical memory erosions, however obvious it may be, and that’s how I explain it to her, that it’s memory, not oblivion, that’s the real invention of the devil.”

In literature of the last century, being a great author meant remembering everything—think of Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Borges, and even Kerouac. But lately it seems that the idea of forgetting has come into vogue, with Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the paranoiac novels of Philip K. Dick, where memory is malleable and delusive. Sci-fi and mystery novels were always rife with forgetting: the android with a fake past; the hospitalized amnesiac who must find himself before bad men do; the psychopath who tricks himself and the reader into believing he’s not a killer.

In Toyko Doesn’t Love Us Anymore, Ray Loriga, like Charlie Kaufman in Eternal Sunshine, riffs on these old conceits in order to salvage something humane, if disorienting and brutal. The plots and even the tone of these two works are quite similar. Both involve the idea of a memory-erasing business, although Kaufman takes the perspective of the patient, and Loriga that of the traveling salesman peddling oblivion in the near-futuristic purgatory of a global drug culture—hotels, swimming pools, cocaine nights, bi-curious sex, and traffic jams—stretching from Vegas to Vietnam. Loriga deals in the classic Burroughs-ian tropes of the Company and the Agent, who is dangerously addicted to the substance he is selling, apparently to suppress the details of a long-lost love affair.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—J. M. Tyree

J. M. Tyree has published essays on American literature in New England Review, and appeared in Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans: Best of the McSweeney’s Humor Category.

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