TOKYO DOESN'T LOVE US ANYMORE
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In Spanish writer Loriga's derivative novel, an anonymous narrator travels the world of the near future selling memory-erasing drugs to anyone with recollections they'd rather forget. The callous but despairing narrator peddles "chemical" for the "Company," which sends him around the globe, from Arizona to Bangkok, from Berlin to Tokyo. In each exotic port-of-call the agent makes a sale or two, has anonymous sex and collects memories he himself will one day have to erase. "There's no longer anything that chemical can't hide nor anything that chemical isn't capable of bringing back again," he laments. Occasionally, Loriga conjures up an interesting futuristic nugget (e.g., a computer program that reincarnates the dead), but more often he meanders into generic tangents that could have come from any other dystopian sci-fi novel. Sometimes his hard-boiled prose hits the mark ("Memory is like the most stupid dog, you throw it a stick and it brings you any old thing"), but often he tries too hard for neo-noir hipness ("Tijuana stretches out into the desert like a stain of oil on an ice rink"). The novel feels cobbled together from the work of past sci-fi masters: the cold and indiscriminate sexuality of J.G. Ballard's Crash , the hallucinogenic tone of Burroughs's Naked Lunch , the cyberpunk globe-trotting of William Gibson and the bleak not-too-distant-future of Philip K. Dick. In the end, Loriga's own story barely emerges from the homages to his predecessors. Agent, Howard Morhaim. (Aug.)