number9dream – David Mitchell
April 1, 2010 § 30 Comments
Dreams are shores where the ocean of spirit meets the land of matter. Beaches where the yet-to-be, the once-were, the will-never-be may walk amid the still-are.
number9dream is the story about Eiji Miyake…
I genuinely don’t know what to say about this book. I want to say “in a nutshell”, but I can’t, because this isn’t one of those books that can be put in nutshells. It’s a crazy book, a story that brings you up the tallest buildings in Tokyo, and right down to the deepest darkest secrets of the Japanese Yakuza. It dwells in dreams, in virtual worlds, in a reality you pretty much wish wasn’t quite so real.
It starts with Eiji Miyake having arrived in big-city Tokyo from small-town Yakushima. He’s there on a quest: he wants to meet his father – a guy who’s never been in his life, and Eiji doesn’t even know his name. This mission is what brings him on all sorts of adventures and experiences: he gets mixed up with all the wrong people, makes all the wrong decisions, and goes ahead with plan after plan that were destined to fail.
Maybe the meaning of life lies in the act of looking for it.
Eiji Miyake is a guy with a dead twin sister he can never stop thinking about, an alcoholic mother who writes him letters whom he never really wants to see again, and a crush on this waitress with the most beautiful neck he has ever seen (reminds me of Murakami and his character’s obsession with ears…). Oh, and he’s got the world’s most extravagant imagination. I read through almost three quarters of the first chapter before I understood that some parts of the story were merely Eiji Miyake’s own imaginings that never really happened.
Parts of Anju are too bright, parts of Anju are so dark she isn’t even here.
Each chapter had a different theme, and almost a different method of story-telling. At the beginning of every chapter, it was like jumping into a different lake, some lukewarm, some at freezing temperature. At times it felt like groping in the dark, not really knowing where the story is taking you, until you’ve gone through half the chapter, some things start to make sense backwards.
It kept me on my toes, it really did. I felt like I couldn’t slack for even a little bit, I couldn’t let my senses get washed away along with the fast-moving plot. I had to have all my wits with me if I wanted to get to the end in one piece. Reading this was exhausting. Along the way, I had to stop between chapters, I had to tell myself, “Wait,” I had to give myself time to really think about what just happened. By the end of chapter 7, it looked like things were starting to resolve themselves, and I just heaved a sigh of relief. A little too early.
This was my first David Mitchell. He’s got four other books I’m meaning to read.
* Note: He first got my attention when I read a review of Cloud Atlas at anothercookiecrumbles, where she mentioned he was ‘almost Murakami-esque’. Then I read Tony’s review of number9dream. They were right. There are some definite Murakami moments.