Book Review – The Harvard Lampoon

The 90s #

| Issue Editor: WDG '13 | Art Editor: KAE '13

Book Review

  CWW '16

First, a note of thanks: while interns are typically not asked to write, I know what was tacitly implied when the text was left on my desk with the note “please review.”

“SX3000 Copier/Scanner Manual” is certainly a deeply symbolic and metaphorical novel.  The author, a Japanese national, uses the pseudonym “Fujitsu,” likely an homage to the photocopier manufacturer and a commentary on the derivative nature of fiction.

The novel opens like many others, with a table of contents followed by fire and electrical safety warnings.  An opening scene of exposition, ironically titled “Set-Up,” introduces us to the characters in this post-post-modernist epic. Initially we are led to believe that Power Switch is the dominant figure, but his position is revealed to be symbolic and difficult to reach.  

Thereafter the novel is a collection of vignettes told through Cover Flap B, the closest thing the novel has to a protagonist. In this minimalist masterpiece our heroine is reactionary, an observer to the world around her.  “Open Cover Flap B,” begin all of the stories.  “Close Cover Flap B” they all end.

Fujitsu presents a bouquet of subjects.  We spoon a warm bowl of nostalgia in “Memory Presets / QuickPrint.” In contrast, “Black/White v. Colored Ink” depicts a pre-post-racial America filled with error messages. “Maintenance” is a tragic meditation on aging and mortality.  

An interesting choice is the narration style of second-person imperative.  This maintains a highly active voice and makes the reader ask himself “Is there something I should be doing?”

The work’s main theme is originality in the context of previous writers.  “How do you make copies?” Fujitsu asks. “Make sure the cover is completely closed and then press the green button.” The cover of what, exactly? I venture the original writer’s casket.

The novel’s final chapter is “Customer Support,” a Marxist commentary on capitalism that is largely a string of phone numbers and addresses.

Is this a good book?  Who can really say.  Is it an experimental one?  Yes.  We are haunted by Fujitsu’s final statement on globalization: his printing of the entire novel a second time, upside-down and in Spanish.