by David Mitchell


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812966923
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/11/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 241,958
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.99(h) x 0.85(d)

About the Author

David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Bone Clocks, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell translated from the Japanese the internationally bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt



"We are both busy people, so let's cut the small talk. You already know my name, or at least you knew it, once upon a time. Eiji Miyake. Yes, Ms. Kato, that Eiji Miyake. Why am I here in Tokyo? Think about it. I am here to find out who my father is. And why you, Ms. Kato? You know his name and you know his address. I never threaten anyone. But I am telling you that you are going to give me the information I want. Right now."

Or something like that. A galaxy of cream unribbons in my coffee cup, and the background chatter pulls into focus. My very first morning in Tokyo, and already I am getting ahead of myself. Jupiter Cafe sloshes with lunch-hour laughter, Friday plottings, clinking saucers. Drones bark into cell phones, she-drones hitch up sagging voices to sound more feminine. Steam bears coffee, seafood rolls, detergent. I have a fine across-the-street view of PanOpticon's main entrance. Quite a sight, this zirconium gothic skyscraper. Its upper floors are hidden by cloud, and so is the real Akiko Kato. City weather is a mystery. Under its tight lid, Tokyo swelters at 34°C in 86 percent humidity--a big panasonic display says so. Tokyo is too close up to see, sometimes. There are no distances and everything is above your head--dentists, kindergartens, dance studios. Even the roads and walkways are up on murky stilts. An evil-twin Venice with all the water drained away. Reflected airplanes climb over mirrored buildings. I always thought Kagoshima was huge, but you could lose it down a single side alley in Shinjuku. I light a cigarette--I am smoking Kools today, the brand chosen by a biker with hair dyed blackcurrant in the line ahead of me--and watch the traffic and passersby on the intersection between Omekaido Avenue and Kita Street. City office drones, lip-pierced hairdressers, midday drunks. Nobody is standing still. Rivers, snowstorms, traffic, bytes, generations, a thousand faces per minute. Back on Yakushima you might get a thousand minutes per face. Crowds make me thoughtful. All these people have boxes of memories labeled "Father," "Dad," "Pa." Whatever. Photogenic pix, shots in poor light, scary figures, tender poses, fuzzy angles, scratched negatives--it makes no difference. Unlike me, they know who it was who ushered them into the world. Crowds make me too thoughtful.

Ms. Kato! Come down to Jupiter Cafe! It would be so much simpler. You drop by for a seafood roll and a coffee; I recognize you instantly, of course, introduce myself, admit coyly that I was hoping to bump into you here; we discuss the matter at hand--we are two grown-ups now--and you will see that natural justice is on my side. I sigh aloud, and sense my neighbor hide him-or-herself deeper behind his-or-her barrier of newspaper. How do you smuggle daydreams into reality? My careful plan seems far-fetched. A building as vast as PanOpticon surely has many other exits. It must have its own restaurants, to spare its employees the hassle of descending to ground level. Who says you even eat lunch, Ms. Kato? Maybe your slaves bring you a human heart to tide you over until suppertime. I entomb my Kool in the innards of its ancestors and resolve to end my stakeout when I finish this coffee. Hear that, Akiko Kato? I am coming in to get you.

Three waitresses staff Jupiter Cafe this lunchtime. Waitress One--the boss--is a brittle imperial dowager who poisoned her husband. Waitress Two, a corn-on-the-cob face with a braying donkey voice, is Waitress One thirty years ago. Waitress Three is turned away right now, but her hair is up and I can see she has the most perfect neck on Earth. I mean it. A syndicate of love poets could not describe how smooth and curved this neck is. Soft as a peeled egg. Dowager is telling Donkey--and half Jupiter Cafe by default--about her hairdresser's latest failed marriage. "When his wives don't measure up to his fantasies, that's when he tosses them overboard." She has an industrial-diamond voice. The waitress with the perfect neck is serving a life sentence at the sink with a scrubber and sponge in lieu of a ball and chain. The atmosphere is hostile in here. Are Dowager and Donkey cold-shouldering her, or is she cold-shouldering them?

Hot fog is now down to the ninth story of PanOpticon. I decide to calculate the number of days I have lived. It comes to 7,286. I add four leap years. The clock says 12:51. Suddenly most of the drones in the cafe get to their feet and flock away. Are they afraid that if one o'clock finds them anywhere except their fluorescent-lit cubicles, their companies will have an ideal excuse to Restructure them? I watch lots of them enter PanOpticon, and toy with the idea of coming back tomorrow and stealing an ID tag. No. Simple is good. I strike PanOpticon today. At the stroke of one o'clock. My coffee cup stands empty in its moat of slops. I admit I am nervous. Nervous is cool. A recruitment officer for the Self-Defense Forces came to my high school--my old high school, I should say--and said that no worthwhile fighting unit wants members who are immune to fear. In combat, soldiers who are blind and brave inevitably get their platoon wiped out. An effective soldier controls his fear, and uses it to sharpen his senses. It sounded so easy. Another coffee, Eiji? No, thanks, Eiji, but I will smoke one final Kool. To sharpen my senses.

I catch the clock changing from 13:31 to 13:32. Yeah, I know, my deadline died. My ashtray brimmeth over. I shake my box of Kools. Only two left. The fog is down to the sixth story. I imagine Akiko Kato gazing through her air-conned executive-office-suite window--it is high, high up, above the fog even, maybe. The sunshine is stellar up there. Can she sense me, as I sense her? Did she wake up this morning knowing that today is one of those life-altering days? One final, final, final cigarette before "nervous" becomes "spineless." The only other customer in Jupiter Cafe who has stayed as long as me is an old man. He is plugged into a vidboy. His fingers twitch as he fires plasma bolts into the digital distance. He is identical to the ink-brush portrait of Lao Tzu in my classics textbook. I mean it. Bald, nutty, bearded. Other customers arrive, order, pay, drink, eat, use the bathroom, and go. Decades' worth every quarter-hour. Only Lao Tzu and I endure. The waitresses must be thinking my girlfriend has stood me up. Or that I am a psycho on the prowl for a female to stalk. A Muzak version of "Imagine" comes on and John Lennon wakes up in his tomb, appalled. It is sugary beyond belief, full of flowery flutes. Even the musical prostitutes who recorded this horror hated it. Two pregnant women enter, order lemon tea, and discuss what kinds of fathers their husbands will become. "Not ideal, maybe," I want to lean over and tell them, "but it could be worse. Want to hear my life story?" Lao Tzu coughs a cough of no return, and dabs the phlegm off his vidboy screen. I drag smoke down deep and trickle it out through my nostrils. I never expected Tokyo to be this dirty. It needs a good flooding to clean it up. Mandolineering gondoliers punting down Ginza. "Mind you," continues Dowager to Donkey, "his wives are such grasping, mincing creatures! They want to play the la-di-da company president's wife. I tell my hairdresser this: When you search for a spouse, pick somebody whose dreams are exactly the same size as yours. But does he listen, the brainless ape? Of course not! What would an old woman know about these things?" I inhale the foam from my new coffee. My cup has lipstick traces. I construct a legal case to prove that touching the lipstick with my own lips constitutes a kiss. That would increase my tally of kissed girls to three. Surely, less than the national average for a young male of my years. I think I want to forget the first two girls. I know they have already forgotten me. So I look around Jupiter Cafe for a suitable owner of painted lips. I settle on the waitress with the living, wise, moonlit, viola neck. She is still working through the mountain range of dirty cups and dishes. A tendril of hair has fallen loose. It tickles her nape. Lucky hair! I try to compare the fuchsia color on the cup to her lips, but I cannot see her face properly. My case is shaky. Besides, this lipstick is half-fused with the porcelain atoms. It might have been washed many times. Jupiter Cafe is not the last word in luxury teahouses. My imagination is my worst enemy--no, that is not true, but the comfort it gives is never warmer than tepid. The waitress is a sophisticated Tokyoite. She has enough rich, fashion-conscious, virile admirers to fill a laptop computer. Case dismissed. Lao Tzu growls at his vidboy. "Damn, damn, damn bioborgs! Every damn time!" I drink my dregs, put on my baseball cap, and stare at PanOpticon. Time to locate my maker.

PanOpticon's lobby is as cavernous as the belly of some futuristic robo-behemoth. Which is a fair description of the whole PanOpticon organism, only Tokyo moves around it instead of it needing to move around Tokyo. Arrows in the floorpads sense my feet and guide me to a vacant reception booth. I fake boredom. Changes in heart rate may trigger suspicion. A door hisses shut behind me. The blackness is subterranean. A tracer scans me from head to toe, blipping over the bar code on my ID tag. An amber spotlight flicks on, and my reflection stares back from the black glass. I certainly look the part. Overalls, baseball cap, toolbox, clipboard. I adjust my hair and pretend to admire myself. "State your name and business," intones an ice-maiden voice. I wonder how human she is. These days computers humanize and humans computerize and you never know. I pretend to lose my cool slightly, stare at the ceiling, and act the overawed yokel. "Uh . . . Afternoon, madam. Ran Sogabe is my name. I came to do the fish, see."


"No, I came quite alone."

"What is the name of your company? Your employer?" I hear irritation--excellent, my interviewer is only a human.

"Finny Friends. Inc."

"Finny Friends?"

"Inc. Haven't you seen our vidscreen ad? 'If your finny friends are feeling down, don't despair, don't you frown! A brand-new service is in town! If your--'"

"Why are you requesting access to PanOpticon?"

I act puzzled. "I service fish for the Ministry of Law."

"Which partners?"

"Osugi and Kosugi."

"Osugi and Bosugi."

She is inexperienced. I check my clipboard. "Right." Let me in, Ice Maiden. Someone as dumb as me can't be a threat to anyone.

"I am scanning some curious objects in your toolbox."

Now I act proud. "Newly imported from Germany, madam, or might it be mademoiselle? May I present to you the ionic fluorocarb popper! Doubtless a lady of your education is already well aware that the key to a successful marine environment is pH stability. Finny Friends, Inc., is the first aquaculturist practice in Japan to utilize this little wonder. If time permits, perhaps you would allow me to--"

"Place your right hand on the pad in front of you."

"I hope this is going to tickle."

"That is your left hand."

"Beg your pardon."

A brief eternity passes before a green authorized light blinks.

"And your access code?"

Ice Maiden is thorough. I scrunch my eyes. "Let me see: 313-636-969."

"Your access code is valid . . ." So it should be--I paid the finest freelance hacker in the city three months' salary for those nine digits. ". . . for the month of July. We are now in August."

That scuzzy bum hacker. "Uh . . . weird." I scratch my crotch to buy time. "That was the access number encoded and received from--" I glance at my clipboard "--Ms. Akiko Kato. They don't come much higher up than her."

"Your access code is invalid."

I puff out my cheeks. "If you say so, if you say so. Pity, though. When Ms. Kato wants to know why her Okinawan silverspines--priceless, for all intents and purposes, now they are on the near-extinct list--are belly-up dead on the surface, I'll just have to refer her to you. Oh, well. What did you say your name was?" I pose with my pen.

Ice Maiden hardens. "Check your access codes and return tomorrow."

I shake my head, amused. "If only saving silverspines from asphyxiation were that simple! Do you have any idea how many finny friends I got on my turf? Obviously not. In the old days, we had more give and take, but now we run to an hour-by-hour time frame. Even as I stand here I got ninety angelfish at the Metropolitan gasping for a gill scour. Now. Your name? This is just so we don't get sued and I am not the one who loses my job."

Ice Maiden hesitates.

"Look," I say, "why not call Ms Kato's secretary?"

"I already did. You are expected tomorrow. Not today."

"Tomorrow?" I will electrocute my freelance hacker, very slowly. "Of course I was expected tomorrow. But the Minister for Fish issued an industry-wide warning last night. Aquatic gill-and-mouth ebola has entered the country. The Cubans are to blame, apparently. The spores, traveling down air ducts, enter tanks, lodge in brain tissue, and puff up the fish until they literally explode. Innards everywhere. The scientists are working on a cure, but until then--"

Ice Maiden finally cracks. "Ancillary authorization granted, Mr. Sogabe. From this booth proceed to the elevator, which will take you to the eighty-first floor. You must leave PanOpticon within sixty minutes, and follow the sensor arrows at all times, or Security will not be held responsible for any injuries."

"Level eighty-one, Mr. Sogabe," announces the elevator. "I look forward to serving you again." The doors open and for a moment I think I am in a virtual rainforest. Pots, ferns, and plants half-conceal the reception desk. An aviary of vidphones trills. A woman puts down a spray mister and peers at me from behind a hyacinth as high as herself. "Security told me Mr. Sogabe was coming. Who are you?"

"Let me guess! Kazuyo? Kazuyo. Am I right?"

"No. I'm Fubuki. But who--"

"Ms. Fubuki! Of course! No wonder Ran calls you his PanOpticon Delight!"

"Who are you and what do you want?"

I act a young man driven by flattery failure into digging a deeper pit. "Uh, I'm Ran's--I mean Mr. Sogabe's--apprentice. Joji. Don't tell me he never mentioned me! I do Harajuku normally, but I'm covering Mr. Sogabe's Shinjuku clients too this month on account of his, uh . . ." I look left and right, and whisper, ". . . genital malaria."

Her face falls. "I beg your pardon?"

From the Hardcover edition.

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Number9Dream 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“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 second novel by British author, David Mitchell. Nineteen-year-old Eiji Miyake arrives in Tokyo looking for his father, a man he has never met, a man whose name he does not even know. He has a letter from a lawyer warning him not to try to find his father, so his first move is to stake out the lawyer’s office from a café opposite, the Jupiter Café, where works a girl with the most beautiful neck in the world. So begins another foray into the world of David Mitchell, one that takes the reader on an interesting (and occasionally, slightly bizarre) journey. As Eiji moves from the café to the Lost Property Office of Ueno station to a game parlour to an unfinished development on reclaimed land to a safe house to a video shop to a pizza shop to a mountain retreat, he also moves in and out of danger and encounters quite a cast of (often quirky) individuals. Claude Debussy and John Lennon play significant roles, as do the Yakuza organised crime syndicate, an overabundance of cigarettes, some seriously weird pizza recipes, a cat, an absent mother and a dead twin sister. Mitchell manages to seamlessly include the journal of a WW2 Kaiten pilot, scenes from a surreal black and white movie, a fantastic tale starring a stuttering goatwriter, a hen and a Pithecanthropus, an account of sex slavery and organ theft, and, of course, quite a few dreams. The number nine and its elements, unsurprisingly, feature heavily but in quite a subtle way. As with all of Mitchell’s novels, there are characters who appear in earlier and later books. Mitchell’s characters, for all their oddities, are appealing; their dialogue and Eiji’s inner monologue provide plenty of humour; and they manage to express some insightful observations: “Weird. All these people like my mother paying counsellors and clinics to reattach them to reality; all these people like me paying Sony and Sega to reattach us to unreality” and “Maybe the truest difference between people is exactly this: how they see why they are here” also “Maybe the meaning of life lies in looking for it”. The (perhaps) abrupt ending that leaves things very much “up in the air” may not be to every reader’s taste, but the characters, plot and prose more than compensate, especially the delightful feast of rhyme, alliteration and incredibly clever wordplay of the goatwriter piece. An excellent read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best book i've ever read! It has everything needful to be no1 bestseller! GREAT! I can stronly recommend #9dream!
kaipakartik on LibraryThing 24 days ago
This is the tale of Eiji Miyake who wants to find his father. He travels to Tokyo from his village to do so.Its not a straight out quest though. He encounters the Yakuza along the way. Dream sequences and Video games abound. There are death sequences so horrific that the line between the surreal and real begins to blur. David Mitchell is a pure storyteller. He creates suspense and keeps you reading. This is especially true when he goes into flashback mode. His ramblings are even better and he probably knows Japan as well as anyone with its unpredictable earthquakes and confined spaces along with the food.There were a ton of John Lennon references that I didn't care for but that is a small gripe in an otherwise outstanding novel. Cloud Atlas is probably the probably the first book you should pick by David Mitchell though.
cinesnail88 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Haven't read Cloud Atlas yet, but I have a feeling I will enjoy it when I get there. Mitchell's Japanese foray was an absolutely wonderful adventure in storytelling. The John Lennon reference drew me to the book, and I certainly don't regret it.
sirfurboy on LibraryThing 24 days ago
Number 9 Dream is a captivating and intelligent novel, well written - as one would expect from David Mitchell, and with some deep themes. The book is about a Japanese young man who is in search of the father who abandoned his family when he and his twin sister were born. He is also haunted by another significant event of his past. Through the book, the search for his father gradually bears fruit, but ultimately it becomes clear that this knowledge was never important, as the protagonist - Eiji - comes of age through a series of enlightening experiences. But this is no ordinary coming of age novel as much of the action takes place in Eiji's head. His dreams are as important to the narrative as the real events - and sometimes its a little tricky to separate what is real from what is imagined.In the end, we see that the number 9 dream is that which starts after every ending. That is, when the other issues are resolved and Eiji comes out of the dream world and seems to wake up into this world, the 9th dream begins - the beginning of Eiji's real life. (Shades of the much shorter "Dandelion Wine" here!)Parts of this novel were gripping, and the whole narrative sweeps you along. However it is not my favourite book for various reasons - most notably that this seems to be a rather self conscious attempt to write a Murakami novel by David Mitchell. The very title hints at this. #9 Dream is a song by John Lennon. Murakami, of course, achieved fame through his "Norwegian Wood". Indeed, the dialogue in this book compares #9 Dream with the song Norwegian wood.Eiji is also found to be reading "Wind Up Bird Chronicle" as he contemplates his death - wondering what will become to the man stuck down the dry well.And there are many other subtle references to Murakami. The structure of the book has trademark Murakami surrealism. We have love hotels and prostitutes and bad sex. We have the multiple threads and war time reminiscences. At times I thought I actually was reading Murakami.Anyone who has seen my reviews will know I am not actually a big Murakami fan, because of his tendency to drop all the threads without resolution. Mitchell does not do that - except for the very deliberate new thread that is dropped at the end of chapter 8. But all the same, I think I would prefer to read David Mitchell for David Mitchell. I love his humour, his power of description, his ability to write in different voices, and his understanding of how to write a good story. This book contained all of the above, but I hope his future works are less self consciously derivative.
amydross on LibraryThing 24 days ago
There were things I liked very much about the book -- the characters were well-drawn, and their relationships sweet. There are bad people in this novel, but we never get to know them well -- the hero's friends and family are almost unrealistically kind, helpful, and supportive of the hero's quest. I loved them all.I also thought the setting really worked: Mitchell's descriptions of both Tokyo and rural Japan were totally convincing to me, focusing on small, random details that just felt right. I appreciated that this story is *not* about the western experience of Japan, and how weird and disorienting it is -- instead, it is a much less extreme fish-out-of-water story.On the other hand... I find it a little problematic that I'm still not sure what the book was about. I picked this book because I wanted to read something avant garde, with nontraditional story-telling, but maybe 80% of the story here felt totally straight forward and normal. Which is fine, but not what I was hoping for. As for the remaining 20%... some parts of the book are clearly dreams or fantasies, but I'm not sure if all of it is meant to be? I mean, some of it definitely *doesn't* feel like dreams, but then other parts are sort of in between, and I wasn't sure if they were dreams or not. And I'm not at all sure what the point of the dreams was. I didn't get a sense of general conclusion the author was drawing about the nature of dreams, or the nature of reality, or the relationship between the two... And the dreams themselves (if I recognized them correctly) were some of the dullest sections of the book.There were also two sections where the narrative was interrupted by sections from some other narrative -- in one case, an allegorical animal story, which I found unreadably stupid. The other one was the diary of a kamikaze pilot in WWII, and that one was sort of fascinating, but also had very little to do with the rest of the story, from what I could see.All in all, I wound up sort of ignoring the avant garde bits, because I couldn't make much of them, but the remainder almost but doesn't quite work as a straight-forward story.
goose114 on LibraryThing 24 days ago
The main character, Eiji, is searching for his mysterious father whom he has never known. Through his quest Eiji encounters obstacles from every angle including the yakuza. This book is a wonderfully imaginative modern quest through Japan.
egarabis on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I loved this novel, just as I have loved so much of Mitchell before reading this. I read Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten before and was wondering how I would feel reading a continuous narrative, instead of short stories. I really feel like this novel still had that same "short story" quality to it. There were so many dream sequences and other stories tied in to the main story that you almost felt like you were piecing together short stories. I liked the ethereal feel of the story and the references to life meaning, dreaming and embarking on a quest. This novel had a very Murakami feel to it, it reminded me of the Wind-Up bird in certain parts, not the story but the feel of it and some of the common imagery.
nivramkoorb on LibraryThing 24 days ago
As others have mentioned, this book is my least favorite of his 5 novels. I feel his last 2 are his strongest. That being said, there is no doubting his talent and for that alone this book is worth it. It is not for everyone, but there is no denying Mitchell's creativity. I felt that his should have stuck more closely to the core story and skipped his digressions into dream sequences. I appreciate the creativity but they did not help the book. I hope his future efforts are more in line with his last 2 books. I am glad that I have now read his entire output. He is truly an outstanding author.
xenoglossy on LibraryThing 24 days ago
I'm sure Mitchell is an excellent author. I've heard that his following book, Cloud Atlas, is amazing. This book, unfortunately, is nothing but a slavish imitation of Haruki Murakami. It's a competent imitation, to be fair, and it was an entertaining read, but everything from the setting (Tokyo, of course) to the writing style (dreamlike, sort of magical-realism) to the characters (unexceptional, sort of loserish guy who chases after and ends up dating a beautiful and exciting woman) right down to the Beatles/John Lennon references gave me a sense of deja vu. I know none of those things is really damning in its own right, but the overall effect is quite derivative. If you're considering reading it, I'd suggest just picking up an actual Murakami novel instead.
jennyo on LibraryThing 24 days ago
First, let me say that I adore David Mitchell's writing. Really love it. That said, I wasn't as wild about this book as I'd hoped I would be. I'd saved it for a while because it was my last unread Mitchell. But when the new book (I'm not even going to try to type the title since I'd misspell it horribly) came out, I decided I could go ahead and read this one.Unfortunately, I chose to read it when I had a raging case of strep and was running about a 102 degree fever for days. Not the time that your brain is ready for a book that skips around in time and plays with alternatives the way this one does. I needed a little more straightforward narrative, just because that was all my brain could handle at the time.Still, I enjoyed the read, even though I got a little confused at times. And I loved the characters. Mitchell has a real ability to make his characters come to life.But I was disappointed in the ending. I'm not going to say anything about it. Just that it wasn't what I hoped.But you know, even a disappointing Mitchell is better than most other books.I'm looking forward to reading his newest one soon.
ericj.dixon on LibraryThing 24 days ago
A beautiful and thoroughly engaging read. Moments of random violence and moments of random kindness make this novel a memorable and affecting. The final chapter has a lyrical beauty to it. I especially liked these late lines, "I lean back in the sun and think about nothing in particular until my champagne bomb explodes. So little lasts. Mountains, classic songs, friendships, perhaps, and nut much else."
JimElkins on LibraryThing 28 days ago
(Well, I see Mitchell is a star 'LibraryThing' author. But these notes are for me, not for authors -- and does anyone read these reviews, anyway?)This is a forgettable, cobbled-together fantasy of contemporary Japan. Not 'Joycean,' as reviewers have said; and it's good to remember that 'futuristic beauty' (as on one of the cover endorsements) is easy.
jimmydare on LibraryThing 6 months ago
I found Number9Dream rewarding and frustrating in equal measure. The book follows a naive, video-game obsessed country boy named Eiji Miyake on his quest to find his father in a hyper-modern Tokyo. Miyake makes his way through the low-wage world of video stores, pizza delivery shacks, and love motels. In the course of his search gets mixed up with bloodthirsty Yakuza gang, falls for a beautiful waitress who also happens to be a brilliant pianist, and is taken under the wing of a debauched young playboy who might be his brother. Mitchell also weaves new texts into the action. The search introduces the diary of a Japanese soldier in WW11 who is preparing for a suicide mission in a manned torpedo. There¿s also a manuscript describing a post-apocalyptic world where Goatwriter ( a creature who may or may not be a goat, who¿s maid may or may not be a hen, and who¿s butler is definitely a caveman) battles with a witch and a talking rat to keep his stories of the internet. In case that wasn¿t digressive enough, Miyake frequently pops into dream worlds where he gets high with John Lennon and wrestles crocodiles. This sort of pop, over-the-top plotting can be annoying but Mitchell has the skill to pull it off. Unlike so many hipster picaresques, Number9Dream places the cool aside long enough to let the emotional worlds of his characters emerge -- as in the heartbreaking stories involving Miyake¿s relationship with his twin sister. Whenever the book seems ready to ride off cliff Mitchell introduce some truly human moment that pulls the story back. One of the key problems with the book is its similarities, both in theme and style, to the work of Haruki Murakami. Mitchell is examining a dreamlike Japan with the same cool eye that Muyrakami has, and at times the similarities are so close it feels like imitation. At one point in the book Miyake goes so far as to mention that he read half of The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, but stopped at the part where the narrator got stuck in the well. It¿s as if Mitchell is acknowledging that his characters are living in the same metaphysical loop Murakami¿s do. It¿s an odd moment, and it¿s a little too precious to evoke a contemporary author whose work is mining the exact same vein. If I¿d come to the book fresh I¿d probably have found those similarities damning, but I came to this book after reading Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell¿s stunning recent novel, and that book was so good the memory of it helped me give Number9Dream the benefit of the doubt. I¿m glad I did. Despite the overly dense action, and the similarities to Murakami, there are great moments in this book. The story of Miyake¿s early years is beautifully told, and when we finally discover where his quest is leading, the resolution is unexpected and rewarding -- at least until he veers off again into dream world apocalypse.
hatchibombotar on LibraryThing 6 months ago
At times an overt homage to Murakami, at times it just seems like a copy job. Mitchell experiments with different storytelling techniques and devices in each chapter, but sticks mostly to a single narrator; though he introduces other points of view through diaries, excerpts of a fantasy/fairy tale story, etc. Some fairly gruesome (and memorable, for better or worse) violence marks the scenes with the Yakuza.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I stopped reading part way in. Too jumbled. A "modern" book where I can't tell what the point is. But then I came back to it. Gradually a story sorted itself out, one that kept me going to the end. The end itself is an irksome cliffhanger.
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Excellent characterization. Universal themes. Conflicts with which all can identify. Challenging enough that it does not give you everything in one reading.
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