Wednesday, 12 April 2017

number9dream by David Mitchell

*Minor Spoilers Below*

I can smugly say that at this moment, I've read all of David Mitchell's novels there are. That is, except for the one I'll never get to read because it's part of this ridiculous novels-for-the-future project, which frustrates me with every part of my being, because I can't truly understand what possible benefit it endows to have books first read 100 years from now. No way that they're hurt by being read before now. I mean, they'll probably be hilarious in unintentional ways, as the world will have moved on, and maybe still good enough to stand the test of time, but as a voracious reader, the idea that those books are written and I will never read them, unless I believe in reincarnation or that immortality is coming far sooner than the best guesses? It makes me very stressed out and angry.

I mean, fuck your voracious fans of the present, right?

I think I have to go away and calm down for a second.

Okay, I've had lunch. I don't think this is any less of a bad idea, but let's get back to number9dream, the last book I had to read before I'd read all of Mitchell's books. I am a huge fan of his works, particularly as it becomes more and more obvious how they intertwine. With that said, it's interesting to go back to an earlier book where that idea is I think still there, but definitely in an earlier stage. We see here the playing with genre, although perhaps less obviously as in some of his other works. We see how stories interweave. And in this one, we get a rather enjoyable weaving between "reality" and many different kinds of dreams, from fantasies, daydreams, nightmares, fiction, memories, etc. I could go back and taxonomize them all, but you get the general idea.

We are with Eiji Miyake, who has recently come to Tokyo to find his father, whom he has never met. His mother was an abandoned mistress when she became pregnant with twins. She left Eiji and his twin sister Anju with their grandmother and likewise deserted them. Having lost Anju as well, Eiji is cast adrift, searching desperately for the father whose finding he thinks would ground him.

We watch him storm in in a cyberpunk montage, and encounter the much more mundane repulsion by his father's legal wife. We read memories of the past, nightmares of the present, and possibilities of the future. Dreaming is woven through as Eiji is drawn accidentally into a Yakuza power struggle. (At least, I'm pretty sure that all actually happens, but there are moments of the book when I wasn't entirely positive.)

I really enjoyed the shifting genres, as well as the little symbols that separated sections and challenged me to try to put  name to different kinds of dreams, as well as the black diamond of reality. I have also read a number of books recently where a young man is determined that finding his father will answer all his questions - it is heartening that this was one book where the young man realized that it was perhaps not his father but his mother that held the promise of a renewed relationship. Most of the other books have had the father as the be-all and end-all.

I have no idea how accurately this depicts Tokyo, but I enjoyed this fictionalized version. But if there were connections to Mitchell's other books, I wasn't putting them together. (Maybe to Ghostwritten?)

No comments:

Post a Comment