number9dream Paperback – 15 Mar 2001
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David Mitchell's second novel, number9dream, uses a similar episodic format to his brilliant but fragmentary debut Ghostwritten to create a more coherent and assured narrative that is part detective, part coming-of-age, story. Eiji Miyake, 20, naïve and wholly loveable, encounters a frantic, exotic world when he comes to Tokyo from his small island home to find the father he has never met.
Pin-stripped drones, a lip-pierced hairdresser, midday drunks ... Not a single person is standing still ... a thousand faces per minute ... oven-hot ... ready to buckle under the weight of cloud at any moment.Eiji is a dreamer, a Billy Liar for the Cyberpunk generation. His fantasies structure this frenetic kaleidoscopic narrative, conducting the reader on an exhilarating, disorientating tour of metropolis and mind. One minute Eiji is contending with arcade-game cybourgs, the next caught up in a Blue Velvet-type nightmare with real-life (perhaps) gangsters: "dragged into a turf war between wolves with rabies". So what was crazed and charming becomes dangerous and gripping.
This exotica and cyber-unreality allow more traditional novelistic concerns--a boy's coming of age, the exploration of ethical responsibilities or the great human universals of love and duty--to creep up unobtrusively. Pretty soon the realisation dawns: this isn't just fun, this isn't just clever, this is a great, perhaps a very great, novel. A Joycean delight in language and parody combines with affectionate characterisation and an impressive narrative control to make number9dream an extraordinary and rewarding experience. --Robert Mighall
Even more dazzling than GHOSTWRITTEN. (Matt Thorne Independent on Sunday)
A delirious mix of thriller, tragedy, fantasy, video games and a portrait of uneasy modern Japan . . . A deserving Booker nominee. (Guardian)
Wildly inventive. (Sunday Times)
This Booker-shortlisted fantasia confirms the Hiroshima-based Mitchell as the most prodigally gifted of young British novelists ... an extraordinary literary cabaret of dreams, visions and pastiches, from video-game rides and gangster rumbles to suicide submariners. (Boyd Tonkin Independent)
Exceptional. (Literary Review)
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
The central figure of the book is Eiji Miyake, a kid from the sticks, and his adventures in the Tokyo metropolis. He arrives in Tokyo on a mission to find his biological father, having lost his twin sister in an accident and been abandoned by his mother. The book tells the story of his seven weeks in Tokyo. The narrative employs Mitchell's trademark magical realism to illustrate Eiji's travails.
Like all of Mitchell's other works, 'Number9dream' is best seen as a collection of tales rather than an uninterrupted story. It flits between reality and Eiji's imagination with ease. I found this fine for the first part of the book but I got lost in the chapter "Study of Tales". For the first time reading Mitchell I didn't get the point! I still don't know what the stories Eiji was reading here were about. Perhaps I'm just not perceptive enough, but this felt like a little bit of Emperor's New Clothes. Hate to be too critical but there you are!
The rest of the book is thoroughly enjoyable and I'm glad I read it. I particularly liked the Yakuza sequences. Very violent, very Manga. The chapter describing the war diaries of Eiji's great uncle was also very well written.
A good book but not as good as the rest of David Mitchell's work. If you're coming to him fresh read 'Cloud Atlas' or 'Ghostwritten' first.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliantly written, great story, but too many dream sequences for me, just like when people tell you their dreams, you don't really care. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Anthony Bools
Wow, wow and thrice wow! I love the author's craftsmanship. So glad I read this.Published 2 months ago by katrina_marina
I shouldn't be reviewing this book. Why? I am a total fan of David Mitchell's writing. I consider him one of God's gifts to the reading universe so am definitely not... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
David Mitchell is vastly becoming one of my favourite authors of all time. Like many of his books it took me a while to become engrossed, but once hooked, very difficult to put... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Profit of Dune
“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”... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Cloggie Downunder