Number9dream

by David Mitchell | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0375507264 Global Overview for this book
Registered by quinnsmom of Hobe Sound, Florida USA on 4/28/2004
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by quinnsmom from Hobe Sound, Florida USA on Wednesday, April 28, 2004
will decide to keep or let go after I read

Journal Entry 2 by quinnsmom from Hobe Sound, Florida USA on Tuesday, July 06, 2004
I absolutely LOVED this book. And because I loved it so much, I'm buying another copy to keep and giving this one away. This copy is going to goatgrrl.

To start to even describe this book is a monumental task. At first I almost put it down after the first chapter until I realized what was going on and how the author was going to work the story. In the words of David Mitchell himself, he refers to his tool for writing this book as "multiple reality frames," and indeed even knowing that doesn't prepare you for what you are about to experience. Just his description of life in Tokyo and the city itself hit me like an ongoing strobe light. I have never read a book where I was so overwhelmed on the basis of the description of the city.

Divided into nine chapters, (with the 9th chapter blank), the book begins normally enough, with the main character, Eiji Miwaki having a coffee at the Jupiter Cafe. We find out he is in Tokyo to find his father, who had abandoned Eiji and his twin Anju when they were just infants. My first clue that this was going to be no ordinary story came from the name of the building across from the Jupiter Cafe where Eiji's father's attorney had her office -- the PanOpticon. Being an avid reader of Foucault, I knew this was going to be fun. If you have no idea of what I'm talking about, read Discipline & Punish by Foucault. Anyway, then the action switches to Eiji being inside the building trying to get to his father's attorney a la James Bond and the lastest inventions from MI-6. It was after the attorney became a "bioborg" that I put the book down, said to my husband "he must be dreaming this" and then remembered the book's title and picked it back up again. Sure enough, after a few pages of this we are right back in the Jupiter Cafe. In every chapter, in fact, the reader never knows what is real and what is Eiji's dreams. The author actually opens his book with a quotation from Don DeLillo's Americana in which he states "It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams." Mitchell also brings in other types of narratives besides Eiji's dreams to tell Eiji's story. Some of it works, some of it doesn't.

Having just finished The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised to find reference to it in this book. And I remember thinking while I was reading the first part of this novel that this book reminded me so much of a Murakami but speeded up like an old 78 or like an old 70s ballad set to modern 21st century technorhythms. Whoa!

What I didn't like about this book (actually, what didn't work for me) were the Yakuza scenes which played out like old gangster films on the late show. The author even seems to make fun of himself at one point (192) where one of the gang bosses threatens another with some state of the art type of explosive and the other says "I am getting bored of this gangster movie pseudoscience." In general, the Yakuza scenes were kind of ridiculous & tended to go on when they could have been much shorter and more effective. Some of the goatwriter stories also tended to go on, and I felt that these also could have been cut down because for me, it interrupted the flow of the action. This book was also well paced until the end when Eiji returns to his home and then for some reason, it's like the author lost steam. So that was another minor distraction.

As with Murakami and Wind-up Bird Chronicle, I found some gems for quotations in this work. On page 233, for example, he hears the author of the Goatwriter stories saying to him "You know, all of us are writers, busy writing our own fictions about how the world is, and how it came to be this way. We connect plots and ascribe motives that may, or may not, coincide with the truth." Another one that I loved: "some things are real...and some things are fake. Some things are full of shit." (39-40) HOW TRUE IS THAT!!! As the author himself notes in an interview I recently read, "meaning, just like memory, is a function of the mind, and that the act of attaching meaning to something is what one mind does in a different way to another."

This book was definitely a feast for the senses and a book that absolutely should not be missed. Sterling novel.

I would definitely recommend this novel with the caveat once more that it absolutely requires direct & intense reader participation. Also, if you need that tidy ending, this isn't the book for you. Some review that I read complained that the book didn't focus enough on Eiji's search for his father and I wanted to email the person and tell them they'd obviously missed the point. Life is not tied up in ribbons & bows with the promise of happy or tidy endings inside, why should literature have to be any different?

Overall, quite an excellent read.


Journal Entry 3 by goatgrrl from New Westminster, British Columbia Canada on Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Hi quinnsmom! This book arrived this afternoon, and I was so delighted to receive it. Your timing is flawless, as I just finished Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, which is favoured to win the 2004 Booker Prize. So I'm even more eager to read Number 9 Dream than I was before. Thanks so much for sending this book along, and especially for going to the trouble of purchasing a second copy -- very kind of you. Best wishes from New Westminster, British Columbia!

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