The Method Actors
Carl Shuker, . . Shoemaker & Hoard, $16 (492pp) ISBN 978-1-59376-065-6
Kiwinovelist Shuker's debut follows a set of gaijin—young international 20-somethings who have gravitated to ultrahip, fast-forward Tokyo—as one of their number goes missing. A young Wellington-born military historian researching the Rape of Nanking, Michael Edwards suddenly disappears from his coterie, and his ex-pat clan swings into action despite their own problems. Michael's sister Meredith, 22, rushes back from a U.S. trip and must negotiate their complicated family's concern, as well as her own lack of direction. Catherine (married at 24 and having recently ended an affair with Michael), Yasuhiko (a misfit ex-botanist drug dealer to the rich and foreign), New Zealander Simon and his occasional bedmate Jacques—all get involved to one degree or another, when they can stop thinking about fashion, sex or drugs. Shuker uses short sections titled by character to shift back and forth in time, place and perspective. Meredith tirelessly roots around her brother's life, but the complex, grandiose scope of Michael's research (which may hold the key) pales in comparison to the Tokyo appearance of Catherine's husband. Shuker's dizzying debut shimmers with authentic detail, an uncanny, otherworldly sense of place and a cast of believably hardcore hipsters.
Reviewed on: 05/23/2005