The story takes place in a circus in Paris in the 1970's. Much is made of the romance of the circus atmosphere, of flying through the air on a trapeze etc. We're talking about Old World riffs on the romance and tawdriness of the ring. There are no elephants in tutus walking on their hind legs in this circus; but there are slit-eyed jugglers, daring death-loving trapeze artists and sad Pierrot clowns; though the Pierrot clown - our hero, Torinosu (a.k.a 'Bird's Nest') does have a false red nose. The tawdriness comes from the circus master pimping out his performers to anyone willing to pay. Decadence is strife throughout the tale - ghosts who wander into the action looking like teenage girls even though they're actually the hero's brother; abandoned neurotic women with a thing for inflicting pain; buracon and possible murder, not to mention mountains of unspoken pining and a hero who looks about to perish at any moment from terminal angst.
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