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Number9dream [Paperback]

David Mitchell
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Book Description

As Eiji Miyake's twentieth birthday nears, he sets out for the seething metropolis of Tokyo to find the father he has never met. There, he begins a thrilling, whirlwind journey where dreams, memories and reality collide then diverge as Eiji is caught up in a feverish succession of encounters by turn bizarre, hilarious and shockingly dangerous. But until Eiji has fallen in love and exorcised his childhood demons, the belonging he craves will remain, tantalizingly, just beyond his grasp...
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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From Amazon

David Mitchell's second novel, Number9Dream, tells the story of Eiji Miyake, a young man negotiating a hypermodern and dangerous Tokyo to meet for the first time his secretive and powerful father. Naïve and fresh from the Japanese countryside, Eiji encounters every obstacle imaginable in his quest, from his father's--and in-laws'--reluctance for the encounter to occur (Eiji is the bastard son) to fiery entanglements with yakuza (the Japanese mafia) to the overwhelming size and anonymity of Tokyo itself.

The novel is cartoonish in that Eiji has a vivid and violent imagination that fills the book with daydreams. When not chain-smoking, forlorn Eiji wanders the city following vague or cryptic leads that invariably dead-end or land him back among yakuza. Mitchell (author of the critically acclaimed Ghostwritten) has a smart, eclectic writing style that seems foreign, and the novel is well paced, but the yakuza encounters are too cinematic, complete with unusual torture and pyrotechnics. Moreover, in addition to Eiji's daydreams, the last half of the book contains excerpts from the diaries of his great uncle's World War II naval heroics and bizarre short stories that Eiji reads while hiding--the latter of which make for tedious reading.

Number9Dream is crafted from too many disparate components; it does not seem to be a full expression, but an overly crowded one. Readers will sympathize with Eiji and his search, but in the end will wonder what effect, if any, all the extraneous forces had on him. The book provides many fun moments, but ultimately it doesn't really add up to the sum of its parts. --Michael Ferch --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

A young Japanese man's quest to find his estranged parents throws him into a bizarre world of mobsters, dream villains and cyber-tricksters in Mitchell's second novel (after Ghostwritten), a hyperactive, erratic sprawl of a book that begins when narrator Eiji Miyake finds himself out on his own after his twin sister, Anju, dies: his alcoholic mother had had a nervous breakdown and left her two children with their grandmother when they were very young, and they have never met their father. Miyake makes the move from rural Japan to Tokyo to stake out the company where his father is a powerful executive. But his search lands him in a nebulous yet dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with an equally powerful Japanese mobster who uses Miyake's need to find his parents to kidnap and threaten him in a series of malevolent and nearly inexplicable scenes. The most coherent sequence in the narrative takes place when Miyake is contacted by his grandfather, a former seaman who gives Miyake his diary, a poignant account of his stint on a submarine in the final days of WWII, as the Japanese frantically scrambled to deploy a new undersea warhead. Miyake eventually manages to meet his parents, but those potentially affecting scenes are overwhelmed and overshadowed by Mitchell's relentless tendency to spin out futuristic, over-the-top scenarios in which Miyake is whisked away into strange settings and then abused as if he were the hero in a deadly video game. Mitchell showed considerable promise in his highly acclaimed debut, but his sophomore effort is so chaotic that it will test even the most diligent and devoted reader. (Feb. 26)Forecast: Rave reviews from the British press, a Booker Prize nomination and a five-city author tour will give this challenging novel a needed boost.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Brad
Format:Hardcover
First of all I read an interview with David in the Sydney Morning Herald, where he talks about the mind as a meaning machine. I note the title down and commence searching. Then I notice elsewhere it's been nominated for the Booker. I search harder. Months later, I finally find a copy and settle in to read. Maybe the search for the book raised my expectations, but I ended up being disappointed. Mitchell has commented elsewhere that he admires DeLillo, and I have seen him compared with Gibson -- in my opinion, he doesn't approach either. Against the narrative scale of DeLillo, this novel is a children's story; against the cool minimalism of Gibson his Tokyo is a densely populated cartoon. Which isn't to say that the novel doesn't turn pages -- the inventive structure kept me intrigued and the play between dream and reality also created a sense of suspense -- the question is, were there no better novels to come out of the Commonwealth in 2001? In the end I think I'd be recommending the book to young readers looking for a path into literature -- not to readers of serious fiction, and certainly not to Booker judges...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Murakami-esque novel fails to impress.. May 7 2002
By lazza
Format:Hardcover
..., David Mitchell is obviously a fan of Haruki Murakami. In Number9Dream there are many cameo appearances of the works of Murakami, and the overall theme of the novel seems to be derived from Murakami's stable: disenchanted loner living in the crazy world of Tokyo's youth culture. Haruki Murakami has written some fine material, especially his brilliant The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. How does David Mitchell's Number9Dream hold up in comparison? Not very well.
The story itself, a complex tale of an illegitimate country boy going to Tokyo in search of his father, is interesting enough. Mitchell is most confident in his prose when delving into a side story concerning the yakuza, the Japanese crime syndicate his father obviously rubs shoulders with. But unfortunately our lead character is, quite literally, an avid dreamer. These weird dreams, constantly sprinkled throughout the novel, detract rather than enhance the story. Haruki Murakami is the expert in weaving surreal elements into his novels. David Mitchell fails, quite badly.
However all is not lost. There are vignettes within this overly complex novel which are actually quite interesting, and often the characterizations and the prose work very well. David Mitchell also captures the feeling of frenetic Tokyo quite convincingly. With better editting Number9Dream could have been quite a decent read.
Bottom line: Murakami fans will be appalled at this derivative material by Mitchell. Certainly not a terrible novel, but one has to wonder why Number9Dream was nominated for the Booker Prize?
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Kaleidoscope of the Life April 18 2002
Format:Hardcover
David Mitchell's second novel tells us a story of a young Japanese man Eiji Miyake who arrives in modern megapolitan Tokyo in search of his father who repudiated him long ago. That forms an outline of the book which consists of nine parts. The structure of the novel and some of its plotlines are similar to the ones of the author's first novel "Ghostwritten": every part has certain degree of independence (even linguistic) but the plot of the second novel is undoubtedly more coherent and harmonious than of the first one.
Nine different parts of "number9dream" are like disparate edges of the human life in the modern world, they supersede one another: a mixture of sci-fi story with hero's vindictive dreams, sentimental flashbacks of hero's early life with his late beloved twin sister, a dive into erotical nightlife of the modern megapolis, a Yakuza story, a dystopian fantasy with excellent verbal tightrope-walking (which, I believe, played a substantial role in novel's shortlisting for the Booker Prize 2001), meditation about recent Japanese history and meaning of human existence, reiteration of some previous elements with noticeable mob tints, an apokalyptic denouement designed as a secession of dreams, and - silence. Having in mind such genre and wordy diversity every reader can find in the novel something to enjoy or ponder over (personally I prefer Goatwriter's language-twisting Study of Tales and historico-philosophical Kai Ten). Though the book consists of such different parts, it has sufficiently strict plot which joins the kaleidoscope of its separate parts in a kind of bildungsroman, the author of which tries to put eternal questions of human existence using postmodern literary gamut of the 21st century.
Yet the book has some weak points.
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2.0 out of 5 stars First Time March 17 2002
Format:Hardcover
I have probably been introduced to more writers' work through The Booker Prize than any other. I had already read, "Ghostwritten", which I very much enjoyed, so when this book arrived I had high expectations. Why the people on The Booker Committee chose this book is beyond me, and if this was the first work he had written I never would have picked up the second. These are 400 pages of fiction bordering on incoherent. When the book does stray into prose that is readable, the reader is then rewarded with a host of threads that have no conclusion.
Contrary to what has been suggested our hero has no clue who his father is nor where he can be located. We are exposed to this fact through a mind numbing series of daydreams fueled by caffeine and every cigarette brand you care to name. It's difficult to explain just how disjointed this book is. Through a good portion of the book when a storyline starts to unfold we are treated to the experiences of a sentient goat, chicken, and a prehistoric sidekick. Nothing wrong with sentient chickens, but when the chicken in distress is picked up by God on a surfboard, no amount of labeling can legitimize this book. Post modern, surreal, or my favorite, Dickensian coming of age all are just word bytes to cover over the substance that isn't there.
The other rationale used for books like this is that the references, metaphors, etc are so subtle that if the book does not appeal to the reader, the reader is the one who is lacking. There are some heavy handed clichés that are tossed about including a phone call from a customer to a computer help center that everyone has either been told or has read before.
A final word on the goat, this fellow is not only sentient, he is a writer, hence his name goatwriter.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A quirky - but gripping - novel
Okay, I realise (judging from some of the other reviews) that this novel will NOT appeal to everyone, but I thought it was brilliant. I loved the "manga" quality. Read more
Published on July 5 2008 by Canuck Baritone
5.0 out of 5 stars Be patient!
First of all, most of the other reviewers comments are true, even the comments of those who hated the book. Read more
Published on May 4 2002 by Mark Delaney
5.0 out of 5 stars Number9Dream: Mitchell's second child
Number9Dream is a story from David Mitchell (who is also known for his bestseller Ghostwritten). It takes place in Japan and is about a 20 year old "man of the world", Eiji Miyake. Read more
Published on March 27 2002 by Joseph Sanchez
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Worthy of a Booker Nomination
The scope of David Mitchell's imagination is astounding. This book moves through the unreal realm of video games, the horror of mafia retribution, the futility of war and the... Read more
Published on Feb. 23 2002 by "jean_frost"
3.0 out of 5 stars Trying hard to be Murakami
I am a great fan of Haruki Murakami, and was very impressed by David Mitchell's first novel "Ghostwritten" which managed to combine the magic of Murakami's modern Japan with a... Read more
Published on Feb. 20 2002 by D. Pritchard
5.0 out of 5 stars Dazzling Dream
Twenty-year-old Eiji Miyake travels to the hyperkinetic, frenetic city of Tokyo in this second novel by David Mitchell, the English expatriate author of 'Ghostwritten' who lives in... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2002 by Laure-Madeleine
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