Friday, January 25, 2013

Review: "Number9dream" by David Mitchell

This is the book that fulfills the potential of a writer I have so desperately wanted to laud praise on. With his novel Number9dream, the talents that David Mitchell has are fully recognized. All of his unique abilities to transcend genre’s and even the novel itself come together in a story that is both pleasurable to read as well as being insightful about the heart of the human spirit. Even when reading books of his, like his famous novel Cloud Atlas and his most recent book The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, I was struck by the stylistic high wire acts that Mitchell is capable of that makes reading any one of his books a wholly original experience you cannot get anywhere else, but the stories themselves never really intrigued me, and they, as well as their meaning and power, got lost under the weight of these unique concepts and ideas. But that is not the case for Number9dream, which is not only the best book of Mitchell’s I have read, but may be a candidate for favorite book of the year, even as early as January. All the pieces fit together to tell a very honest and heartfelt coming of age story that reads like an alternate version of Murakami’s Kafka on the shore, with the same kind of beautiful absurdism that somehow tells a more honest truth than the actual reality. The story begins as Eiji Miyake is waiting outside an office building in Tokyo to confront his father whom he has never met. He has just turned 20, yet is still reeling from the death of his sister as well as the neglect from his mother who has checked herself into a mental health facility, both of which happened years ago. He devises an elaborate plan to meet with his father’s secretary and coerce her into giving up the details on how to meet him. Much like a Murakami novel, things are never really as they seem, but unlike him, Mitchell is all but happy to reward you with the answers to his many riddles. We find out that a lot of the things that are happening, especially the more extravagant and preposterous events that Eiji is experiencing exist merely within his own imagination (don’t worry, that is not a spoiler to how well you enjoy the book). This journey, which has been built up inside the mind of Eiji as well as the reader, takes many drastic and fun turns involving the yakuza and computer hacking, but the real emotion of this book reveals itself in its last few pages, which are absolutely marvelous. It becomes less a tale of fantasy and more a tale about growing up, and finally turning all of your inward imagination and dreams outward in order to become an adult, no matter how cozy it is to think about what you want to do instead of doing it and how hard it is to make the things you want a reality. This revelation leads to a very intense and heartfelt ending that left me floored. Can’t say enough about how much I loved this book, and can finally praise Mitchell for his amazing talents.
Rating: 5/5

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