number9dream starts unlike any other Mitchell book; sure Mitchell has an eclectic style, but there's a certain feel to his books—the idea that regardless of subject or genre, all the stories are somehow tied together. number9dream didn't feel like a part of the Mitchell universe—it felt more like a poor attempt at Murakami minus the cats.
Yet, it is still David Mitchell. The writing is superb. In fact, relying less on tricks, number9dream relies more on great writing. The sentences and scenes Mitchell turns out are gorgeous. Sure, all of it feels like a horrible acid trip, but it's a riveting and beautiful acid trip.
While it's another one of Mitchell's formula (how many different voices can I write in in one novel?), both the story and the writing are great. What else is there? It very much seems to be a tribute to Murakami.
This book takes a surreal look at modern day Japan. The book is definitely well written with delightful prose. Due to dream sequences it can be a bit difficult to stay on top of the story. Worth reading for anyone who is interested.
NUMBER9DREAM is a story set in and in every way a fantasia of modern Japan. With looks back to tradition, to WWII and to family history, it also follows narrator Eiji, a young man of the country exposed (in many senses) to the world of 21st-century Tokyo: living in a "capsule"; organized crime wars: vapid minds and consumerism. The theme may be "be careful what you wish for" or possibly, "when you find what you seek, it may not be where you were looking." This is a terrific book, always engaging and often challenging. Even in moments of impatience, I skipped no more than a few paragraphs of this rich work.
Some reviews (and the cover blurb) take pains trying to find a genre niche for David Mitchell's second novel. One could consider shelving it next to Don Quixote, imho. number9dream reads primarily like a quest. Eiji Miyake is not only focused on the Holy Grail of an absent parent, but on the tightrope that separates reality from dream, from wish or the surrealism of contemporary urban society, quests that may be particularly poignant to youth. Eiji's search is frantic. He, a fragile 19 year old with little education or athletic prowess from an unsophisticated village, fares well in the company of heroes like James Bond or Indiana Jones. Mitchell can tell a story.
He can also deal with complexity. But he writes with a clarity and sense of timing that makes sense out of chaos and grips my attention in spite of its exotic and intricate track across places I have never seen.
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