God of Bug Eater Flipbook by Mo hitotsu no kenkyujo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I ordered this little thing straight from Japan. And, in classic Japanese fashion, the package arrived neatly wrapped and protected, with the book in a small cellophane bag, and included in the bag was . . . a package of eyeglass wipes?!?
OK, I've come to expect weirdness from Japan. After all, have you ever watched one of those crazy Japanese game shows? Or those creepy Japanese McDonald's commercials?
But . . . eyeglass wipes? What the heck do eyeglass wipes have to do with this book? WHAT?
What the heck does God of Bug Eater even mean? I . . . I . . . I need to have a seat and calm down . . .
There. Better. Now breathe. Okay.
If God of Bug Eater is a "good" translation, then this is a very strange title for a book, to say the least. If it's a case of bad "Engrish," then it's the most serendipitously surreal title since . . . ever.
And I love it! This book is concentrated strangeness, a 4"X1.5"X1" brick of weird. Move over, Mieville, vamoose, VanderMeer, there's a NEWER weird in town!
After failing my saving throw versus the confusion caused by my glass-wiping "visitor," I was hit by another round of confusion: Was this a large matchbook? Is that what I ordered?
Well, no and no. The book comes in this very clever little slipcase. Yeah, a sturdy little slipcase that looks an awful lot like a matchbook. What you see in the photo on Goodreads is the slipcase, not the book itself. It's encrusted with all sorts of Japanese characters that I can't read, but one side provides this lovely little translation: "You and I will always be together. Be one with me, and we'll become a pretty-colored forest."
"Forrest" is my real name, incidentally. I was named after my grandfather, Forrest. So reading this invitation, had me a little creeped out (keep in mind my mental association of all things Japanese with those McDonald's commercials . . .). In fact, I thought it might be an omen. Would I pull the little flip book out and then be PULLED IN?!?!?
Why, yes! I was pulled in. Pulled in by the novelty of the flipbook and pulled into a universe where a bug eats its way through your book right before your very eyes. And I mean, eats a physical hole through your book. It's entrancing and delightful. Then, watch in numb horror as the "god" eats . . . well, I don't want to give it all away.
Let's just say that the quote on the box is the most fitting summation of the story. There are no cliffhangers here. Let's also say that this book is a wonderfully complete artifact. Every detail points back to the theme presented on the slipcase. It is, as John Dewey would point out, entirely engaging, but evocative of something much more than the sum of its parts: something much more simultaneously creepy and cute than I can even put into words.
In other words, it is a little treasure. And I am chaining it to my bookshelf with my most precious books!
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