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Salmonella Men on Planet Porno (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – January 12, 2010


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (January 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307389154
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307389152
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Marvelously wacky and psychologically insightful. . . . Tsutsui’s fabulously morbid sense of humor, his obsessiveness and his wit make this collection sufficiently entertaining and disturbing to warrant our attention, especially today when the world as we know it has indeed tilted into the fantastical.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Fans of Haruki Murakami will relish this delightful collection. . . . A strange, magical journey.”
Entertainment Weekly
 
“Darkly funny and still fresh and relevant.”
Los Angeles Times
 
“Each and every story sizzles with energy, teems with issues and sweeps you happily along into the fantasy. . . . Tsutsui is at his best when juggling all the apples, devising entertaining, whimsical worlds and scenarios that camouflage scathing criticism. . . . The collection unabashedly romps in the sexual facets of modern humanity and culture. But Tsutsui’s work does so much more, sometimes brilliantly, often hilariously, always fantastically, never bound by reality or convention.”
The Miami Herald
 
“For once, a book that merits its wacky title, this collection . . . playfully skips across the conventions of both sci-fi and slapstick. . . . [In it,] the sense of a world bordering on paranoid hysteria is as strong as ever.”
—BBC
 
“Insightful and funny. . . . [Tsutsui’s] dark satire should find a loyal audience in the states.”
Rocky Mountain News
 
“Memorable. . . . Quirky and entertaining. . . . Tsutsui shrewdly reveals the hairline stresses, lusts, and insanities that no society can ever completely wall in.”
The Harvard Crimson
 
“Tsutsui is a shrewd satirist. . . . Potent are those stories where the author eschews genre pyrotechnics and reveals the strangeness and horror of the ordinary.”
The Review of Contemporary Fiction
 
“Off-kilter and marvelously entertaining. In Tsutsui's world, the fantastic and the mundane collide, throwing the lives of ordinary men and women into disarray. . . . Just what the doctor ordered.”
Tucson Citizen
 
“This collection is not for the faint of heart; you must be open to receive its infinite joys.”
The Honolulu Advertiser
 
“[These] stories show [Tsutsui’s] trademark fearlessness in the face of taboos; war, sex, the media, and the sheep-like mentality of groups are all fair game.”
Theme Magazine
 
“Imagine a cross between the music group the B-52s, Thomas Pynchon’s V., Ryu Murakami’s Coin Locker Babies, and James Turner’s graphic novel Nil: A Land Beyond Belief, throw in a good dose of sf tropes and bitter social satire, and you’ll start to get a good idea of what’s in store for you in this collection of 13 imaginative stories from one of Japan’s best-known sf writers.”
School Library Journal
 
“With a sharp eye towards the insanities of contemporary life, Tsutsui crafts an irresistible mix of imagination, satiric fantasy, and truly madcap hilarity.”
Bookmarks Magazine
 
“Imaginative, farcical stories that sometimes amuse and sometimes perplex. . . . [They] focus on the comic follies and irrational whims of the human race.”
—ArmchairInterviews.com
 
“Weird, wonderful and wild. . . . Sparkles with biting pieces of social and political satire that reveal a formidable talent. . . . Tsutsui’s voice is witty and quirky, seducing us to suspend our disbelief for even the most fanciful narrative.”
BookPage

About the Author

One of modern Japan's most renowned writers, Yasutaka Tsutsui has won the Tanizaki Prize, the Kawabata Prize, and several other awards. He was decorated as a Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government. He lives in Japan.

Customer Reviews

Author Tsutsui writes brilliantly in crisp, lucid prose.
Louis N. Gruber
Super excited to read the book, i've read one short story already and I can't wait to keep going.
ellenmlowry
Still, it's often hard to see the twist coming, even when there is one.
Raven

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Rather surprisingly, this collection represents the first appearance in English of the amazingly prolific Japanese author of some 30+ novels and 40+ short story collections. According to his web site, Tsutsu's major influences are Darwin, Freud, and the Marx Brothers -- all of which are well in evidence in the somewhat uneven mix of thirteen short stories.

The mix of surreal and slapstick can be exceedingly successful, such as "Rumors About Me," in which a typical salaryman wakes up one morning to discover he is the topic of a TV news report. As the week goes on, his daily life becomes the subject of a rapidly escalating wave of media hype, in a sly poke at shallow celebrity culture. Another fine story with a touch of cultural critique is "Commuter Army," in which a salesman for a Japanese weapons manufacturer is forced to go to the front lines of a decades-long border war between two fictional small Asian countries. The war has dragged on to the point where the army is trying to entice people to commute to the front on a daily basis and there's an especially funny scene in which the Japanese man is trying to catch the train to the front so he won't be late his first day. Easily the best story in the collection is "Hello, Hello, Hello", which features a mysterious customer service rep from a bank, who pops (literally) in and out of the life of a financially strapped couple, to dictate what they shouldn't buy. It's a hilarious and scathing attack on consumerism.

However the uneven nature of the collection is such that other stories with similar sensibilities are somewhat less successful. For example, in "The Dabba Dabba Tree," a houseplant/tree blurs the line between sexy dreams and reality, resulting in mounting social chaos.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By meeah on February 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
Salmonella Men on Planet Porno" is the sort of book you often come across by accident and start reading because it has a title that promises more in the way of titillation than the title of the book you were originally planning to read, "Memories, Dreams, Reflections" by C.G. Jung. Its a collection of short stories by Yasutaka Tsutsui, a Japanese author of sci-fi and metafiction, not well-known, or much-translated here in the U.S.--and now in his seventies, he's no spring chicken.

I'd say these stories are satire more than they are sci-fi--the kind of biting (and bracing) although sometimes heavy-handed satire (think bludgeon as opposed to scalpel) once practiced by the likes of Jonathan Swift. Tsutsui usually sets these tales in some undefined future but the worlds that his characters characteristically inhabit are just as often grotesquely and comically absurd as they are futuristic, as they might be in an Ionesco play, for instance.

Tsutsui's surreal fantasies, however, are almost uniformly dark, even when they are "funny." Bonsai trees that promote lifelike erotic dreams, anti-smoking regulation that leads to the literal exinction of smokers, a planet (planet Porno) whose inhabitants, descended from hippies, have managed to create a world where everything makes peace not war...this is a sampling of the sort of "what-ifs" in which Tsutsui engages. He doesnt seem to like government much, nor marriage, nor the human race, taken as a whole. In one grim little shocker, he has a family on vacation marching off into the sea, like lemmings, along with the rest of the beach crowd.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on May 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In this dazzling collection of thirteen short stories, ordinary reality quickly changes into something very different. A little bonsai tree at the foot of a couples's bed gives them erotic dreams--in which their neighbors become involved (really). A corporate drone finds his smallest actions reported in the newspaper. The last smoker finds himself an endangered species, as society turns against tobacco. Each story begins with a somewhat believable premise and quickly descends to absurdity and way, way beyond.

The stories are amazing, amusing, shocking, and erotic. Author Tsutsui writes brilliantly in crisp, lucid prose. I enjoyed the collection thoroughly. There is some unevenness among the stories--the title story being a little less engaging than the others. Still, these are great short stories and I recommend them highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Raven on May 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I picked up this book after reading an article about literary trends in the new wave of Japanese magical realism authors. Unsure of what to expect, I was delighted to find that the author possesses both a sense of whimsy and a morbid sense of humor. I was occasionally reminded of O. Henry short stories -- there are similar "aha" moments regarding the bizarre fruits of blind desire and irrational drives. Still, it's often hard to see the twist coming, even when there is one. The first two stories are considerably more light than the rest of the collection, but the author's snappy characterization and witty turns of phrase keep even the depressing stories from collapsing under their own weight. I was delighted to come across such an unexpected gem, and am only sorry that there's not more of the author's work available in English.
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