Overall (4 stars):
What is “pulp fiction”? It’s a genre born from capitalism — lurid, action-heavy stories quickly pumped out and mass-published in magazines on cheap paper made of wood pulp. Though pulp fiction has been long replaced by other serialized mediums, it still remains something of its own. Bon Week-end is a new take on pulp fiction, brought to the digital platform for a modern audience. And though I have a few complaints, I believe Nippoten succeeds with this main goal, capturing the essence of pulp.
Style (4 stars):
Pulp fiction is all about style over substance, which this experimental narrative fully embraces. The narrative is structured like a film script and Nippoten favors short, clipped prose reminiscent of old crime novels. It’s chock full of references to obscure philosophy, crime novels, and cinema. French words and phrases are peppered throughout just for the aesthetic. It’s a lot going on and it sometimes distracts from the story. SPOILER: At the end, Amérique stands in for Nippoten, replying to the editor who vocalizes complaints the audience has already made and complaints the author anticipates they might. An interesting way to talk to the audience, but I don’t think the meta framing of it adds anything.
The author also frequently interjects philosophical interludes, the longest of which is an analysis of systemic violence in the movie, Manila (2009). Most of these are humorous quips coming from the mouth of a precocious child, but not always, and sometimes, especially in the case of the latter, they detract from the story.
Story (4 stars):
Bon Week-end takes place in an alternate timeline of the Entirely Presenting You universe. There will be familiar characters and settings but that’s about where it ends. Styx is the only young leader in the coalition of gangs, and the old men in charge have decided it’s time to take him down in the interest of profit. But if Styx is going down, he’s going to take them down with them. Most chapters have a section from the point of view of Styx and D, structured non-linearly where Styx’s sections take place on Saturday and D’s on Sunday. Without too many spoilers here, the story is frenetic, chaotic. But if you’ve read any of Nip’s works, it’s what you’d expect.
Grammar (5 stars):
No complaints here.
Character (4 stars):
Pulp fiction is fast-paced and all about the action. So when you don’t have a lot of words to work with, and you want to make sure you get all that sweet, sweet action — something’s got to go. In this case, it’s the character development. D remains just as much a mystery as she was at the beginning, Styx remains just as angry and violent, and the rest of the characters are either mysteries or two-dimensional. I would’ve really liked to see more done here, but it is fitting for the genre.
All that said, I recommend this. It’s a quirky, entertaining, albeit slightly depressing, read. And not much of a time commitment either. Read it over the weekend.