Arimasen by Michael Hoffman

Arimasen by Michael Hoffman

A Journey Beyond Reality and Identity

Genre:
Arimasen is a book that becomes difficult yet very interesting with a rich tapestry of ideas and character sketches that might be rewarded by rereading. Hoffman adeptly blurs the boundaries between literary and fantastical, crafting a singularly unique tale that makes the reader second-guess their real-life sensibilities and what it all means.
  • Publisher: VBW Publishing
  • Genre: Fantasy, Literary Fiction
  • First Publication: 2024
  • Language: English

Michael Hoffman‘s Arimasen is a puzzling and enthralling expedition into the nuances of existence, identity, and meaning—imbued within a literary and fantastical frame that provokes yet beguiles its readers. Published in April 2024 by VBW Publishing, this novel defies all genre categorization boundaries except perhaps one: literary fiction and fantasy fiction. Divided into four parts—“Arimasen Bound,” “Arimasen Boundless,” “Palimpsest,” and “Zuihitsu”—the book combines fiction with deep philosophical musings. This very individual structure is one of the things that makes reading the book both surreal and disorienting, much in the way Arimasen appears to be abstract.

Plot

The plot of Arimasen unfolds through a series of intricate dialogues and philosophical explorations, eschewing traditional narrative structures. The story revolves around Neil Grass, an ordinary man perceived as extraordinary by those around him. Neil’s journey begins as a university student where he meets a diverse group of characters, each contributing to the exploration of what Arimasen truly is.

Initially, Neil is a student at a university where he crosses paths with Rose, a celebrated and eccentric author of children’s stories, and Simon Carpenter, a multifaceted philosopher and playwright. These early interactions set the stage for the novel’s exploration of reality and identity. Rose introduces Neil to the concept of Arimasen, a place beyond time and space, while Simon’s philosophical musings challenge Neil’s understanding of existence.

As Neil transitions from a student to a tramp, journalist, and actor, his encounters with other characters further deepen the narrative. Dr. Alex Farr, a scientist who grants immortality to humanity, and the twin musicians Murray and Rick Kurtz, explore themes of fame and artistic creation. Grace Nightingale, Neil’s girlfriend and later his doctor, represents the intersection of personal and professional relationships, while Eric Samsa, a scholar turned recluse, embodies the search for knowledge and truth.

Throughout the novel, Neil grapples with the enigmatic nature of Arimasen. Is it a physical place, a mental state, or something beyond comprehension? This central mystery is explored through the characters’ dialogues and their evolving relationships. The lack of a conventional plot structure mirrors the fluidity of Arimasen, emphasizing the novel’s thematic focus on the nature of reality and the human quest for meaning.

Main Character Analysis

Neil Grass: Neil is the novel’s central character, embodying ordinariness while being perceived as someone with great potential. His journey through various roles—student, tramp, journalist, actor—reflects his evolving understanding of identity and reality. Neil’s bemusement at the expectations placed upon him highlights the novel’s exploration of how external perceptions shape self-identity.

Rose: Rose is a celebrated author known for her eccentricity and profound philosophical insights. Her various surnames (Felicity Rose, Fecundity Rose, etc.) and her authorship of the children’s stories titled “Arimasen” make her a pivotal figure in Neil’s journey. Rose’s whimsical yet profound conversations lead readers deeper into the mysteries of Arimasen.

Simon Carpenter: Simon is a philosopher and author of the unfinished play “Nothing & No One.” His belief that he is the creator of the characters within the novel adds a meta-narrative layer to the story. Simon’s various roles and his evolving relationship with reality underscore the novel’s themes of creation and existence.

Supporting Characters: The novel features a rich ensemble cast, including Dr. Alex Farr, who explores the ethical implications of immortality; the twin musicians Murray and Rick Kurtz, who delve into themes of fame and artistic creation; Grace Nightingale, who symbolizes the intersection of personal and professional relationships; Eric Samsa, who represents the search for knowledge and truth; Nora Moore, Neil’s editor and later wife; and Bernie Sempleton, a journalist navigating the age of post-truth.

Themes and Analysis

Arimasen is a book that is deep and inclusive of many themes, such as reality, identity fluidity, and the search for meaning. Hoffman’s decision to make the book dialogue-heavy works well since the reader gets involved early in the philosophical arguments and personal struggles presented in the novel. The most exciting aspect of the novel concerns how it plays with time and space. Time and space are such concepts that Arimasen is said to surpass; timelessness is reflected through the characters’ mostly fragmented, non-linear stories, continually emphasizing the idea that Arimasen lies so far beyond the limits of ordinary comprehension.

The novel also elaborates on the dichotomy of sense and nonsense, encapsulated in the dialogue between Rose and Grace, where they define the nature of nonsense and its place within a world that is supposed to be rational. This, like so many other conversations within the book, will force readers into a rethinking of reality and meaning.

Style and Structure

Hoffman writes in a lyrical, dense manner and sometimes relatively thick, where readers have to plunge through it. On the one hand, heavy reliance on dialogue can be somewhat disorienting, but it even further creates a strong sense of immediacy. Because there is no traditional narrative exposition, readers must piece together the story and its themes from character interaction and conversation. The structure of the novel is somewhat fragmented, whereby some scenes and dialogues feel as though they are pieces of an elusive puzzle. This level of fragmentation signifies the thematic discussion in the novel regarding the fluidity and multiplicities of identity and reality.

Conclusion

Arimasen is a book that becomes difficult yet very interesting with a rich tapestry of ideas and character sketches that might be rewarded by rereading. Hoffman adeptly blurs the boundaries between literary and fantastical, crafting a singularly unique tale that makes the reader second-guess their real-life sensibilities and what it all means. Though its semi-abstract manner and somewhat circumlocutory dialogue make it probably not for everyone, those who give in to the complexity will find an essay of great inquiry and invention. At its core, Arimasen can be seen as a literary study of the human condition, one without ready answers; instead, it urges one to appreciate the mystery and marvel of it all. The full range of life in a world so confusingly beautiful is well caught through its memorable characters and philosophical ruminations.

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  • Publisher: VBW Publishing
  • Genre: Fantasy, Literary Fiction
  • First Publication: 2024
  • Language: English

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Arimasen is a book that becomes difficult yet very interesting with a rich tapestry of ideas and character sketches that might be rewarded by rereading. Hoffman adeptly blurs the boundaries between literary and fantastical, crafting a singularly unique tale that makes the reader second-guess their real-life sensibilities and what it all means.Arimasen by Michael Hoffman