Dream Messenger: A Novel by Masahiko Shimada, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Dream Messenger: A Novel

Dream Messenger: A Novel

by Masahiko Shimada

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this trying-too-hard-to-be-hip contemporary novel of fantasy, kinky sex, and emotional insecurity, young Japanese writer Shimada explores the fate of ``rental children,'' who grow up willing to do anything--for a price. (Renting substitute children is a concept popular in Japan, where harried parents have taken to sending substitute offspring to perform social services, . visit their grandparents, etc.) Protagonist Masao Fudo is taken in at age five by would-be social engineer Yusaku Katagiri, who ``rents out'' the adopted kids of his Manhattan Orphan Republic by the day, the week or longer to lonely grown-ups who can pay for their companionship. As an adult, Masao (who anglicizes his name to Matthew) hightails it to Tokyo along with his guardian spirit, Mikainaito; unfortunately, the supernatural buddy cannot rescue Masao/Matthew from the revolving-door tawdriness of life as a ``professional'' friend, gigolo and toady, mostly in artsy, publishing and rock music circles. Masao's natural mother, Mika (now a rich widow) hires beauty contest winner Maiko (now a financial analyst) to locate her son--in essence, to buy him back in his adulthood, since she missed out on his youth. The improbabilities multiply in this choppy narrative melange of unsympathetic characters (too many of whom have similar-sounding M names), bad poetry, wooden dialogue, and imitation profundity, exemplified in such empty images as ``a worried-looking dog eating pizza'' (which rates a chapter title). Matthew claims that at age 18 he ``awakened to the true value of being a dream messenger--the use of dreams to communicate with others.'' The best advice for Shimada is to keep dreaming, because no such communication occurs with the reader in this, his first novel to be published in English in the West. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Even the briefest study of its major characters demonstrates that barter is the central image of Dream Messenger . Mika Amino, wealthy widow of a Japanese gangster, is accustomed to purchasing anything she wants. As the action opens, she wants to locate her son, Masao ``Matthew'' Fudo, who was abducted years before to be used as a ``rental child.'' Believing that financial acumen and skillful detection draw upon the same character traits, Amino bribes top security analyst Maiko Rokujo to locate her son. The adult Matthew is a ``professional friend'' who peddles companionship as exploiters once sold his filial attentions. Shimada organizes this interesting study of trans-Pacific culture and commercialism around Maiko's search for Matthew and their subsequent relationship. Though his curiously flat characters barely touch readers' emotions, Shimada captures their imaginations with lavish imagery that incorporates elements of both realism and fantasy. Larger and Japanese collections might consider.-- Jane S. Bakerman, Indiana State Univ., Terre Haute
Alice Joyce
Guardian spirits, Japanese "yakuza" (read "Mafia") money, and sexually ambidextrous (as in highly adaptable) characters are only a few of the tantalizing elements in a quirky tale that raises some provocative questions. Maiko, a beautiful securities analyst, is hired by a wealthy Japanese American widow to locate her long lost son, Matthew. New York provides the backdrop for an orphanage in business to furnish rental children to clients who can afford the fee. And in Tokyo, Matthew is engaged by patrons to be lover and friend. While skillfully mixing genres (detective story, magic realism, and sf) like a quick shuffle of cards, the young author creates a peculiar pastiche challenging notions of self and sexuality, morality, spirituality, and the value of cash . . . in no particular order.

Product Details

Kodansha International
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.35(w) x 9.19(h) x 1.14(d)

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