Monday, 24 June 2013

Book Review: Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa

Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa
Author: Benjamin Constable
Published: June 4, 2013 by Gallery Books


A suicide note. Hidden clues. A deadly game of wits. An imaginary cat. A paean to a strange and addictive friendship. Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa is a compelling invitation to indulge in simple delights and explore a shadowy world where the boundaries between truth and invention are blurred.

Ben Constable and his friend Tomomi "Butterfly" Ishikawa live in Paris. They drink in late-night bars, smoking and laughing, caught up in a seemingly endless conversation-- until Butterfly sends a letter saying she's killed herself. Haunted by the loss, Ben follows her final instructions on a mysterious treasure hunt, revealing unexpected joys and obscure faces of the cities she has lived in. But the deeper he digs, the darker the past he uncovers. Butterfly's life was less innocent than he could have imagined. In a game he thought had been devised for his amusement Ben starts to suspect he is fact the plaything. And the real and surreal overlap, making it difficult to judge what comes from the heart and what could be dangerous. 


Note: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

"I'd like to write a book where the two main characters are me and you."So begins Ben Constable's bizzarre, whimsical, dark, and yet, somehow, humorous novel. Ben Constable has written himself into an adventure in which nothing is quite what it seems, but nothing is ever truly revealed for what it really is. 

I sit here, at a complete loss as to what to say about this book. It grabbed me and my curiosity and held on tight. Until the very end. And still has it in its grip. I am not entirely sure what I read or what it was really about. I am left with questions, questions and more questions, and I am not entirely sure that I really gained anything from reading the book other than some eccentric and perplexing entertainment. 

While Ben Constable becomes convinced that he is the plaything, I am pretty sure the real Ben Constable is actually the puppeteer, playing with his reader. I can only imagine how much fun he had writing his riddle, and how much he is enjoying watching it all play out among readers around the globe.

I want to tell everyone I know to go read this book just so that I can have people to talk to about this 354-page mind-game. If anything, read it as a group with the specific intention of having some drinks and settling in for a long, late-night conversation (like Ben and Butterfly). I will be waiting for my invitation...

"... because you know that endings do not always come last, and that they are only a question of definition..."

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