I picked up this interesting piece of fiction on my Kindle at the recommendation of someone on Facebook.
So what is Like Plastic?
A story of manners, of offence taken and honour restored. Meet nightclub owner Alexei Shakirov, bored and warped scion of a Russian billionaire and brother to the beautiful Anna. Alexei has a fetish for collecting an unusual trophy from the women he drugs. After Megumi falls foul of him she calls her cousin Roku in Tokyo to help her. He and his beautiful wife, Yuko, go to London to right the wrong done to Megumi. Roku, a comic book devotee, looks to his hero, Brett Plastic, for inspiration. What would Brett Plastic do? A hero famed for his superhuman niceness, Plastic would show Alexei the error of his ways, through well-reasoned argument and politeness.
But as Roku knows, Plastic moved into darker territory as his comic book series progressed, and when all else fails, sometimes force is needed. As things escalate it is time for the women to step in and sort things out. This updating of Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” first appeared as a serial online novella where it developed a large following in Japan as well as in the English-speaking world. The new version published here will appeal to fans of Japanese fiction, Manga, Jim Jarmusch and Wes Anderson, and to anyone with a sense of the absurdity of modern life. Visit www.likeplastic.com to find out more.
It is a quirky little story. A contrast between the calm, cool modernism of Roku and Yuko and the old school brute force and ugliness of Alexei. There is the, ahem, “unique” hook of what kicks off the story and Roku’s quest to return his cousin’s honor. But after that it is a sort of arch but self-aware comedy of manners.
There are some interesting dynamics. As noted, Roku and Yuko are rich, beautiful, cosmopolitan and almost too happy together. When the ugliness of Alexei intervenes they keep these attributes even as Roku seeks revenge. And you have the family dynamics between Alexei, his sister and his father. Alexei thinks his is indestructible and untouchable but his sister clearly has other thoughts and seems in a position to play a larger role in the family business. She wants to put the vulgar and violent side of the business behind and has to put Alexei in his place to do so.
The other thread involves Brett Plastic the comic book hero who serves as Roku’s idol and literary mentor. The question that seems to underly this thread is whether the gentlemanly style or Plastic is actually possible or a mere cover for more traditional forms of violence. As Roku ponders, he seems to almost fall into ways to succeed; is it the influence of Plastic or just luck and style?
All in all, an interesting story that feels a little experimental (in the sense that the author was experimenting not that the form was). A quick easy read that is easy on the pocketbook.