“Replacement or rental relatives continue to feature in literature and film, and appeared in three recent Japanese movies I saw on airplanes. In one comedy, The Stand-In Thief, an orphan with no relatives forms emotional bonds with a series of isolated strangers whom he meets while breaking into a house; in another, a stepfather pays his stepdaughter’s deadbeat dad to spend time with her. The mood of these portrayals seemed to alternate between a kind of euphoria at the alchemy of the marketplace, which transforms strangers into loved ones, and a Truman Show–like paranoia that everyone you love is just playing a role.”
A Theory of Relativity,” Elif Batuman

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