"It takes great courage to read something offered the way Ben Brooks offers us his words. We have to suspend our needs for closure and initiations. We have do do away with 'once upon a time' and 'happily ever after.' We donï¿½t have to do it, but we are asked to do it on behalf of a deeper part of ourselves Ben Brooks wants to find. He asks if we can just listen, just hear, just sit, just be. He asks if we can wear the mantle of reader and take his hand and trust. He gives us words encased in image, and images encased in words.
"...Ben Brooks wants to give us the slightest detail, the smallest nuance, the narrative that teeters on the precipice of understanding and desire. He offers us the human creature in all its frailty and allows us to be one of them without judgement for the briefest of moments.
"...But this is also a novel about betrayal and loneliness and how many betrayals human creatures have to endure in their lives and how many failures and the endless optimism of love, the unshakable belief that in this new others' life, I finally have found the self that will make me satisfied. Happy. Content.
In this Japan of the mind, Ben Brooks cradles the intrinsic nihilism of the mass-culture-steeped adolescent world--then crumbles it in his fingers. What drifts out into the air is hilarious and desperate: sex as unguided yearning, silence underlying all substance, and a grinning darkness on every path ahead. These are invoked as emotions within some Japanese students and other humans, who are granted a single benevolence in the form of a deified bear.
The story is a ukiyo-e, a hovering world that dissolves into spiral clouds. Its dissolution is as inexorable as any story has ever been. As a novel, it's a very funny, bitter poem; as a poem, it's an incredibly ferocious novel. Ben Brooks has made sandpaper out of the texture of meaning.