Number 9 Dream

Still with the slgihtly trivial (and Far-Eastern – a theme of this December, it would seem) is a Christmas present from my siblings: David Mitchell’s “Number 9 Dream.” Although famous for his book “Ghostwritten,” I’d never heard of Mr Mitchell, and so the only expectation I had of it was my brother’s inscription “Combining two things you love – Japanese fiction and science fiction.” And this despite the fact I’ve only read a couple of Japanese novels ever (Ishiguro’s “When we were orphans” – genius – and Nobel-prize winner Kenzaburo Oe’s “Rouse up, O Young Men of a New Age“).

Anyway, this book tells the story of a slightly pimply, slightly post-teenage boy who has travelled to Tokyo to track down his father; his father who abandoned the boy’s mother, his mistress, many years ago to her alcoholism, and she, in turn, abandoned her children. Eeji Miyake travels through any number of mediocre jobs and unlikely situations in Tokyo as part of the search, aided and abetted by Buntaro, his landlord, Buntaro’s mother, Mrs Susaki, the girl with the perfect neck, the enigmatic Daimon and the music of John Lennon.

It’s really a fantastic book. The opening plot device – each of the initial scenes are (rather obviously) “dreams” – is a little annoying and comes off as slightly pretentious, but once the book settles into its main story of gansters, trials and tribulations and pizza, the book really comes into its own.

The final chapter, I warn you, is one of the most annoying things ever written. Still, I’d recommend the book to anyone – there is very little science fiction outside the dream sequences; the book is set in the very near future, so this will hopefully allay the fears of any who think of Sci-Fi as anaethma. The only thing you might need is a slightly strong constitution to withstand some of the Pizzas ordered in the book – particularly the Kamikaze. As a pizza lover myself, this is the only book in which the descriptions of pizza have failed to make me hungry…