Throughout the book, the author refers to herself in the second and third-person, creating a sense of a semi-fictional world within the essay. The reader finds herself not just following along on Larson’s journey to understand Takako but also imagining possible pasts for the woman at the center of the mystery ... The pleasure of reading this essay is in the search, and in Larson’s precise, clear-eyed prose ... Though its purported subject remains a cipher, this is an enthralling read that is ultimately about how to make art out of the raw fuel of experience. Reel Bay may be a record of Larson’s failure to render Takako’s story onto the screen, but as an essay, it succeeds at posing thought-provoking questions about the blurred lines between truth and fiction.
Fittingly, Larson softens the divisions separating genres by interweaving memoir, travelogue and screenplay. While unconventional, it works, and the result is a cleverly aberrant narrative structure dealing with the creative process and the difficult search for meaning ... That the author's younger self could also fit this description doesn't seem coincidental. Yet, her older self appears to have found her way, and the heartfelt account that has materialized is proof.
A captivating blend of memoir, true-crime, meditation on women in film, and fantasy played out through the pages of screenplays that will never be completed ... What begins as a cataloguing of a ravenous, journalistic hunt becomes a mesmerizing exercise in projection and subjectivity ... With this essay, Larson captures both the fanaticism of creative fixation and the listlessness of artistic existential dread with clarity and empathy ... There is something inherently defiant in Larson’s exploration of those who are lost and deluded, and something freeing in bearing witness as she becomes the true subject of her art.