What was Takako Konishi really doing in North Dakota, and why did she end up dead? Did she get lost and freeze to death, as the police concluded, while searching for the fictional treasure buried in a snowbank at the end of the Coen Brothers’ film Fargo? Or was it something else that brought her there: unrequited love, ritual suicide, a meteor shower, a far-flung search for purpose? The seed of an obsession took root in struggling film student Jana Larson when she chanced upon a news bulletin about the case. Over the years and across continents, the material Jana gathered in her search for the real Takako outgrew multiple attempts at screenplays and became this remarkable, genre-bending essay that leans into the space between fact and fiction, life and death, author and subject, reality and delusion.
“Larson softens the divisions separating genres by interweaving memoir, travelogue and screenplay. . . . a cleverly aberrant narrative structure dealing with the creative process and the difficult search for meaning.” —Andru Okun, Star Tribune
“The pleasure of reading this essay is in the search, and in Larson”s precise, clear-eyed prose. . . . an enthralling read that is ultimately about how to make art out of the raw fuel of experience.” —Kat Solomon, Chicago Review of Books
“A captivating blend of memoir, true-crime, meditation on women in film, and fantasy. . . . Larson captures both the fanaticism of creative fixation and the listlessness of artistic existential dread with clarity and empathy.” —Lucy Shapiro, Arkansas International
“A moving and powerful elegy about brave women who go in search of an unknown something. A story of obsessions, passions, and delusions. A splendidly melancholy book about the literature in filmmaking and the filmmaking in literature.” —Jazmina Barrera
“I have no idea what the hell this book is—in the best way—except that it’s obsessive and dazzling as it spawns and splits fictions and nonfictions. Expect to be dizzied. Reel Bay vibrates with strangeness.” —Ander Monson
“Reel Bay is an obsessive, fascinating, haunting debut; it is a kind of essay-film constructed out of gorgeous prose. Jana Larson reveals/revises the tensions between art and life, between fiction and fact, and between author and subject.” —Dana Spiotta