Why did I buy a book of random words?

Kenji Siratori is an experimental writer from Hokkaido who I have heard described as “cyberpunk.” Sort of like how a radio tuned to static can be described as playing music. His work is written in a weird pidgin filled with odd contractions, expansions, and slang, all as impenetrable as 256 bit encryption. That’s the generous stance you can take on Nonexistence. The ungenerous stance is that Siratori pounded out a hundred pages of nonsense and is laughing his way to the bank.

Let’s not beat around the bush. You can’t read this book. This isn’t a novel, it’s art, in every wrong way you can count. Nonexistence, like Siratori’s more famous “novel” Blood Electric, is indecipherable technogibberish word salad that makes Tristram Shandy look sane. As there’s no avenue of approach into this book and no way to understand it, I would suggest saving your money and reading the names of the chemicals on the back of a detergent bottle instead.

I don’t mind reading hard books. But give me something. Finnegan’s Wake works because it can be analysed a little bit, and also because of James Joyce’s clever but gentle manhandling of the English language (“[he] lived in the broadest way immarginable”). This, on the other hand, is true art. Big difference.

The web is full of depressing reviews of people claiming to have “gotten” Siratori, or that he’s some sort of genius. Come on guys. Drop the charade. If you read Nonexistence and decide you’ve learned something from the experience, you’ve been trolled. The emperor is not only naked, and he’s also been skinned, eviscerated, and stripped to his bones. That’s how far he is from wearing clothes.

There is nothing to get or understand about Siratori’s books.

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