Thursday, October 03, 2013

Number 9 Dream by David Mitchell

The picture I copied online of the book cover came out a little fuzzy, which is appropriate for this book review.  David Mitchell is a good writer who leans a little too heavily on writing tricks to punch up this story of a modern Japanese 20 year old headed to Tokyo from the provinces to meet the father he's never known.  I like coming of age stories, which is probably why I stuck with this story-on-drugs in spite of the opening pages.   Eijie Miyake is not on drugs, other than an endless string of cigarettes,  but the story switches from LSD-like daydreams to crystal meth-fueled descriptions when he accidentally gets mixed up with brutal Yakusa bosses.  David Mitchell's reliance on switching from day dream to day dream early in the book almost had me put it down, but once it was apparent that any one paragraph might not still be in the same mode (dream, reality, somewhere in between) as the preceding paragraph, yet it would make sense as you stayed with it, caused me stay with it and actually enjoy the book.
Mitchell didn't need to use all these tricks.  The last book of his that I read, "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob DeZoet" was a linear told story that was beautifully written, with an interesting twist about a third through the story.  "Number 9 Dream" is no less interesting, and I liked Eijie as he wrestled with past memories, regrets, resentment and hope.  When I got to the end, I wanted it to keep going because I cared about Eijie and his friends and relatives and we were left hanging as to their future.
The more I thought about it, that was part of the reason Mitchell used some of his techniques, since the idea that the world is seldom as it appears and our futures are controlled by the unknown, with the rules changing just as we think we are winning or loosing, is the central theme of the book.  It reminded me of books by Haruki Murakami, who Becky likes (as do I) so that's why I decided to post.  If you figure the reality jumping may be too irritating, skip the book.  If you're willing to give it a shot, it's a good story with many interesting characters and some satisfying outcomes.  Of the family, I'm guessing only Becky would like it, but for other readers, if you like Murakami, you'll probably like this.

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