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David Mitchell follows his eerily precocious, globe-striding first novel, Ghostwritten, with a work that is in its way even more ambitious. In outward form, number9dream is a Dickensian coming-of-age journey: Young dreamer Eiji Miyake, from remote rural Japan, thrust out on his own by his sister’s death and his mother’s breakdown, comes to Tokyo in pursuit of the father who abandoned him. Stumbling around this strange, awesome city, he trips over and crosses—through a hidden destiny or just monstrously bad luck—a number of its secret power centers. Suddenly, the riddle of his father’s identity becomes just one of the increasingly urgent questions Eiji must answer. Why is the line between the world of his experiences and the world of his dreams so blurry? Why do so many horrible things keep happening to him? What is it about the number 9? To answer these questions, and ultimately to come to terms with his inheritance, Eiji must somehow acquire an insight into the workings of history and fate that would be rare in anyone, much less in a boy from out of town with a price on his head and less than the cost of a Beatles disc to his name.

401 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2001

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About the author

David Mitchell

173 books13.8k followers
David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. After another stint in Japan, he currently lives in Ireland with his wife Keiko and their two children. In an essay for Random House, Mitchell wrote: "I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, but until I came to Japan to live in 1994 I was too easily distracted to do much about it. I would probably have become a writer wherever I lived, but would I have become the same writer if I'd spent the last 6 years in London, or Cape Town, or Moose Jaw, on an oil rig or in the circus? This is my answer to myself." Mitchell's first novel, Ghostwritten (1999), moves around the globe, from Okinawa to Mongolia to pre-Millennial New York City, as nine narrators tell stories that interlock and intersect. The novel won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (for best work of British literature written by an author under 35) and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. His two subsequent novels, number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 2003, he was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists. In 2007, Mitchell was listed among Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World. Mitchell's American editor at Random House is novelist David Ebershoff.

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Profile Image for s.penkevich.
849 reviews5,811 followers
March 5, 2012
'Maybe the meaning of life lies in looking for it.'
Like the song by John Lennon which inspired the title of this novel, David Mitchell plays with the fusion of dreams and reality as he sends the reader spiraling through the chimerical passages of Number9dream. This second novel is a departure from the multi-storied structure of Ghostwritten, instead closely following one character. However, it is anything but a simple linear plot and Mitchell shows once again that he can dazzle and dance through numerous facets of writing. Moving through a complicated coming-of-age tale that starts small with a quest for ones estranged father under control situations and further expands into a search for the meanings and acceptance of life while caught up in events beyond oneself, Mitchell questions reality and the nature of dreams all set to the soundtrack of the late, great John Lennon.

From the very first page, it becomes obvious that Mitchell has grown as a writer in leaps and bounds from his previous novel, which was stunning in its own right. 'A galaxy of cream unribbons in my coffee cup, and the background chatter pulls into focus’ is one of the first of many ethereal descriptions employed to create the dreamy tone of Number9dream. Metaphors are used in abundance to create a fanciful nature that occasionally makes the reader wonder if it is even a metaphor at all or just a waking dream. 'How do you smuggle daydreams into reality?’ he questions, and this novel is the answer. Tokyo is described as ’rising from the floor of night’, and old cook is said to 'reanimate his corpse and sit up’, streets ‘fill up with evening’, and many other dreamlike, or nightmarish, images swirl from the page. There is always a question of the validity to what occurs within Mitchell’s novels (Ghostwritten has many characters wonder if what just transpired really happened, Frobisher questions the validity of the sea journal in Cloud Atlas, etc.) and this book takes that challenge head on. But is it the truth that really matters? ‘We are all of us writers,’ he writes, speaking through the character of Goatwriter in part 5, ‘busy writing our own fictions about how the world is and how it came to be this way. We concoct plots and ascribe motives that may, or may not, coincide with the truth’. This is a novel about the imagination and how we attribute meaning, so truth be damned as we follow Eiji down the rabbit hole.

John Lennon was reportedly obsessed with the number 9 (a very interesting article about that can be read here), which may have taken its root from being born on Oct. 9th, and continued to present itself all through his career with songs like Revolution #9, #9 Dream, and strange coincidences such as meeting Yoko Ono on Nov. 9th and that the two of them have nine letter O’s shared between their names. Mitchell’s protagonist, Eiji, is a massive Lennon fan and seems to also be haunted by the number 9. Like Lennon’s birthplace of Liverpool, Eiji’s Kagoshima has nine letters in the name. Eiji was born on September 9th, and nine years have passed since the tragic episode with his sister. This novel is oversaturated with this mysterious 9, it appears in some form constantly. By the end of the novel, readers may find themselves also obsessed with this number, counting letters in names such as Eiji’s grandfather to find that there are nine letters in Tsukiyama and noticing that Eiji shows up an hour early for his 10a.m. meeting, or adding up the numbers on clock times that show up constantly revealing yet another instance of the number 9 (12:51, 13:32, 2:34, 13:23, etc.). Room numbers are 333 on the 9th floor, everything comes in nines such as the number of vehicles to arrive at the yakuza showdown, bars open at 9am, he shuffles a deck of cards ‘nine times for luck’ and thinks of Ai ‘ninety times per minute’. The book is even separated into 9 chapters, the last of which is blank because 'the meaning of the ninth dream begins after all meanings appear to be dead and gone’. There are seemingly countless other examples. This book is the greatest Easter egg hunt imaginable. Beyond the number 9, Mitchell has some fun incorporating Beatles lyrics into the novel, such as describing Ai as a girl with ’ kaleidoscope eyes’ or in a hilarious scene where Eiji gets stoned and the POV switched briefly into 3rd-person, Eiji opens his mouth to speak ‘but his words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup…’. Pure genius.

While this novel does not have as dramatic of breaks in form as some of his others, each chapter has a structure unique from all the rest, each with its own purpose. There is the high action fantasies of the first chapter, the reflections of the past in the second, and even an entire collection of stories and letters read later on in the novel, both with a highly original voice from the rest. Mitchell is always eager to show his versatility, and fans of this will not be disappointed.

The fifth chapter, Study of Tales, is particularly interesting as it gives Mitchell an opportunity to interject his opinions on the novel itself into the plot. Goatwriter (perhaps a nod to the idea of ghostwriters presented in Ghostwriten?), is a stuttering goat (David Mitchell has a stammer) whose stories often fail since his words literally get stuck in his throat when he eats the pages. He shows how many authors must eat their words, or even be chased down by the word hounds who force them to be always on the run from their past works. The plight of the novelist is cleverly on display. This section is especially poignant today with the rise of electronic readers when the computer witch tells Goatwriter ‘Paper is dead, haven’t you heard? You shall compose your untold tales in a virtual heaven’. The witch argues that ‘writing is not about ‘fulfillment.’ Writing is about adoration! Glamour! Awards!’. Here is where the true message of this books high-octane scenes comes to light. Mitchell argues against writing purely for glamour and this novel is a slap in the face to all those who write purely for a widespread audience enjoyment by becoming one of them. As in Cloud Atlas, Mitchell employs a ’literary pulp’ style of writing to bridge the gap between literature and pulp novels by injecting pure literary depth and meaning into the pulp plots and violent scenes (the yakuza bowling scene will haunt me forever) to infect the minds of those who read pulp and show them that they can look deeper into a novel. ‘I searched for the truly untold tale in sealed caves and lost books of learning’ he says, ’could it be that, instead, profundity is concealed in the obvious? Does the truest originality hide itself within the d-dullest cliché?’. Mitchell could write long dry novels full of depth, but it would seem that his mission is to rescue readers from their sugar-pop novels, so he writes books full of action clichés and compelling violent plots to pull them from the depths and into the wonderful world of literature. Goatwriter’s dive into the lake and his death show Mitchell shedding the worldly fears of writing, giving the finger to critics and the concept of fame, and becoming the abstraction of words and works. Mitchell lives up to this and has become one of the finest modern author. Later in the novel, Mitchell continues to poke fun at simple-minded action plots when he has Buntaro give his theory that ‘a title ending in -ator is guaranteed to be drivel….and the quality of any movie is inverse proportion to the number of helicopters it features.

The metafiction doesn’t stop with Goatwriter. Mitchell has a knack for incorporating others works into his own to highlight his themes. There is a constant comparison of him to the equally excellent Haruki Murakami, both for their metaphysical and surreal styles and for their ‘literary pulp’ novels. David Mitchell is on equal footing with this highly regarded master of modern Japanese literature, and his novels should be more than enough to quench the thirst of any Murakami fan, this novel in particular. Mitchell has Eiji read Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which serves for more than just a nod to his contemporary. The novels share many features, such as a simple quest becoming much more broad in scope and threatening, the surrealistic quality, and both novels have two women that seem to be able to enter and feed off of dreams. Another novel read by Eiji is Le Grand Meaulnes (this book plays a small role in Black Swan Green as well), which is also a coming-of-age of sorts that employs fantastical elements.

The term coming-of-age tale does not quite fit this novel properly. Perhaps coming-to-an-adult-understanding-and-acceptance would be more appropriate, but rather cumbersome and wordy. This novel’s humble beginnings are a quest for Eiji’s father, who he has never met, and this seems to him to be the whole reason for his day-to-day life. Through the course of the novel, Eiji encounters a wide variety of people, all with goals that drive their meaning. Some are looking for their son, which presents a sort of irony, and there is some looking to get the right job, or right school, to die in glory for their country, or to bring a child into this world. However, as Eiji learns, eventually there must be some end to every quest, yet life continues after. ‘When you win, the rules change, and you find you’ve lost’ he is told.

To move forward in looking for your meaning, we often have to look backwards as well. ’Endings are simple, but every beginning is made by the beginning before.’. Through the novel, Eiji often brings up a tragic event involving his sister nine years before the novels present. While he discusses it from time to time, he always beats around the bush so to speak and it isn’t until the very end that he confronts it head on. He mentions how guitar had been a method of helping him get past the pain, but his life had just been a Band-Aid to cover up, not actual healing. This is his true coming-of-age, when he finally learns to accept and move forward. It is interesting how Mitchell uses landscapes to exemplify this. First, there is much emphasis of people being a part of their environment, ‘I am not made by me, or my parents, but my the Japan that did come into being’,, or 'Tokyo builds people’. Also, it seems that your present location is important to who you are as he is told 'knowing where you are is a requisite of self-knowledge'. Most of the novel takes place in Tokyo, which is described in beautiful ethereal depictions, often moving up and out towards the sky and clouds. This is his escape, and his escape has now built him much like how Lennon tells Eiji that ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ wrote him. When he returns home, the descriptions become more grounded and earthy, discussing the colors of nature, the grains of grass, and the dirt. The prose becomes overwhelmingly lush and the smells and sounds of being out in the country effluviate from his words. He is now down to earth, removed from the dream and is able to easily distinguish what is real and what are his dreams, which are easily separated for the reader. He has returned to the land, the Japan where 'all the myths slithered, galloped and swam from.’ Once he has come to grips with his reality and past, his dreamlike Tokyo is literally shaken up and ripped apart, the dream shattered.

This novel is incredible. It is a thrill ride through the life of the mind, through bloody Yakuza fights, hilarious first sexual encounters (he calls his erection ‘Godzilla’!), childhood memories and first loves. All the while, Mitchell pumps the pulp fiction with layers upon layers of meaning and then questions the idea of meaning and reality itself. ‘The world is an ordered flowchart of subplots after all’ he says, and this novel will make you question your own reality, much like how Eiji often wonders if he is still some child weeping in the woods and his whole life is a dream. You will also find yourself haunted by the number 9 forever after (is it only a coincidence this review is 9 paragraphs longs….?). Find this book and read it, and examine your meaning. Because maybe 'the meaning of life lies in looking for it’.
böwakawa poussé, poussé

'The body is the outermost layer of the mind.'
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,422 reviews3,373 followers
May 8, 2023
The narration is dreamlike… Is life but a dream? Eiji Miyake is searching for his father but he finds so many different things…
Squeeze, squelch, squirt. Crocodiles scream, even underwater. The jaws unscissor and the monster thrashes off in spirals. Lao Tzu mimes applause, but I have already gone three minutes without air and the surface is impossibly distant. I kick feebly upwards. Nitrogen fizzes in my brain. Sluggishly I fly, and the ocean sings. Face submerged, searching for me from the stone whale, is my waitress, loyal to the last, hair streaming in the shallows. Our eyes meet for a final time, and then, overcome by the beauty of my own death, I sink in slow, sad circles.

The first part – first dream – is called Panopticon – a building, as a prison or library, so arranged that all parts of the interior are visible from a single point. So we’ll see everything.
And a lost property office is a good departure point to start seeking.
Thirty-six bowling balls were left on platform nine, the farthest platform from the lost property office. Suga had performed his disappearing act so I had to lug them over one by one. They were claimed later by a team who were waiting for them at Tokyo Central station. I am learning that laws of probability work differently in the field of lost property.

The most important thing, however, is that while searching for his father Eiji Miyake finds himself and on the way he establishes his attitude to life.
The eighth dream is titled: The Language of Mountains Is Rain but the language of number9dream is not just water – it is the other three elements as well.
Any life is a quest for one’s own identity.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,962 followers
February 10, 2017
I want to say, "It was me, it wasn't you," to this novel. She and I just didn't click. She's obviously got a lot going for her besides her perfect neck, including a horribly pretentious style and a vividly dramatic penchant for detail, but while I had a very good time with some of his other novels all lined up in a row like some Voltron Robot of literature, this one just seemed to go on and on with rambling and disjointed plot-lines that EVENTUALLY, like, at the END wrapped up into the Matrix-Style "This Is Only A Dream" Science Fantasy extravaganza with immortal witches and people Outside Of Time that so punctuated his other novels.

Don't get me wrong. I really wanted to like her. The novel feels just as epic as a wandering and hopeless kid with a very, very late destiny can aspire to. Maybe I've just run out of patience after getting through so many of David Mitchell's novels. The glorious bits are glorious, the normal bits are strongly detailed and interesting in their way, and the density of ideas is sometimes an awesome pleasure to behold.

But the overall structure of these monstrosities?

I Just Don't Know. I feel like I'm trying to suck a fifth of Whisky from a bottle left unbroken. I want to love the insanity and I want to love sheer chutzpah. It's always a heavy mix of traditional literature, fascinating locations, interesting peoples, and OUT-THERE SF to tie it all together like a nightmare or a dream.

Indeed. A dream. *sigh*

I'm sorry, number9dream. It was me, not you.
Profile Image for Ian "Marvin" Graye.
859 reviews2,177 followers
August 25, 2016
How Will I Know?

Whitney Houston sings, “How will I know if he really loves me?”

Pop Music asks some of the most probing questions we can imagine.

Many of them are secular versions of Spirituals, Gospel Music or Hymns.

How will I know if He really loves me?

How will I know if He really exists?

How will I know if He’s really there?

What would I say if he insists?

(Sorry, that last one slipped in from my review of "Glee: How to Plot an Episode in 70 Words".)

To which the tabloid press add:

How could I tell?

And, more significantly, in the Facebook era:

Who could I tell?

How would I tell them?

Can Anybody Find Me Somebody to Love?

Freddie Mercury sings, “Can anybody find me somebody to love?”

Can anybody find me somebody to love me?

We need somebody to love.

We need somebody to love us.

Need, need, need, need, need.

We are the most psychologically needy creatures ever to inhabit this Earth, but we are also the most skeptical.

We need to believe, we want to believe, we want to be believed in, but we are plagued by doubt.

How Could We Tell?

If Jesus or God returned to Earth, how could we tell it was Him?

Would we expect Him to perform a miracle?

Would we ask Him to show us His wounds?

What if She wore a dress?

What if He wore a suit?

What if She was a Democrat? (God forbid.)

What if He was a Republican? (God forbids.)

How would we know?

How could we tell?

Lift Up Your Heads, Read Joyce

As probing and insightful as these questions are, there is an equally important set of literary questions.

Would we recognise James Joyce if he was in our midst?

What if he wasn’t wearing a hat?

How should we laud him?

Re-Joyce, the Lord is King

On the other hand, there's the reader’s equivalent of the old chestnut: who is the next Bob Dylan?

Who is the next James Joyce?

Would we recognise them?

Would we recognise the next “Ulysses”?

Could someone in the 21st century write the greatest novel ever written?

Does it have to be a (or the) Great American Novel to qualify?

What if it was the Great Asian Novel?

What if it wasn’t written by Haruki Murakami? (I’d have egg on my face then, wouldn’t I?)

What if it was written by an Englishman?

What if it was “number9dream”?

2001: A Time and Space Oddity

David Mitchell released his second novel in 2001.

Having read the novel twice, I wondered what the blurb had said:

“David Mitchell’s second novel belongs in a Far Eastern, multi-textual, urban-pastoral, road-movie-of-the-mind, cyber-metaphysical, detective/family chronicle, coming-of-age-love-story genre of one. It is a mesmerizing successor to his highly acclaimed and prize-winning debut, “Ghostwritten’.”

The blurb-writer should be sacked.

This is understatement of the highest (or is it, lowest?) order.

“number9dream” is a time and space oddity.

But, more importantly, it is a time and space odyssey.

It is a 21st century “Ulysses”.

No, this is an understatement.

It is the 21st century “Ulysses”.

Prove It? These are Facts!

“It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams”: Don DeLillo, “Americana”

Proof? You want proof?

Must I show you Mitchell’s wounds? Must I document all his miracles?

Oh ye of little faith.

Must I bury reality, so that I can disclose his dreams?

OK. Prove it. Just the facts. The confidential. This case that I’ve been working on so long…

On Approaching “number9dream” (A Guide for Television Fans)

“First you creep
Then you leap
Up about a hundred feet
Yet you're in so deep
You could write the Book.
The birds
They're giving you the words
The world is just a feeling
You undertook.

It’s Juxtaposition (I Didn’t Imagine Getting Myself Into)

So, how would David Mitchell tell his story?

How would he know what to say?

“number9dream” is typical of Mitchell’s writing in that it is not a straight linear narrative.

It collects nine (apparently) disparate chapters and juxtaposes them against each other.

I have to confess that I didn’t really have a clue what was going on (and why) until the middle of Chapter 5 (“Study of Tales”).

Up until then, Mitchell seemed to be just assembling his paints and brushes on the table, getting everything ready, drawing an outline, only no picture was emerging.

But is it too much to expect a reader to wait 250 pages before they start to get it?

I think of Mitchell as a mosaic artist.

I see him as an author who might feel that meaning and society have become fragmented or broken, but whose counter-strategy is to fix it by making it whole again.

He is one of a group of artists who shepherds us from disintegration to integration. Individually and socially.

As long as people feel that alienation is not a natural or desirable state, I will look to culture and artists like Mitchell for this experience and outcome.

Yet, I had started to believe that this work might be an artistic failure, that he was trapped in mere juxtaposition.

The chapters didn’t seem to be conversing, they weren’t informing each other, they weren’t relating to each other.

It was only in chapter 5 that the mosaic started to take shape for me.

Father On Up the Road

Eiji Miyake is a 20-year old boy from the country who now lives in Tokyo.

His father abandoned his family when he was very young.

His twin sister, Anju, died nine years ago when they were 11.

Eiji’s mother became an alcoholic, and he more or less ran away from home.

It’s about time he started to make something of his life.

In a way, Eiji is a composite of both Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom from Joyce’s “Ulysses”.

Eiji and Stephen are on a quest to find a biological or metaphorical father, to flesh out, contextualise and complete a family.

Eiji and Bloom are on a quest to consummate or repair a sexual relationship, which in Eiji’s case will mark the completion of his passage through adolescence (in the same way it does in Murakami’s “Norwegian Wood”).

Joyce took 18 Episodes, Mitchell takes nine Chapters (one of which is wordless, apart from the digit “9”).

Joyce’s work is structurally modeled on Homer’s “Odyssey”.

Mitchell’s work takes “Ulysses” and leaps from it into a postmodern waterfall of meanings.

Only, paradoxically, like “Alice in Wonderland”, he leaps upwards rather than diving downwards – hence, “First you creep/Then you leap/Up about a hundred feet/Yet you're in so deep/ You could write the Book”.

Playing with Some Ballpark Figures of Speech

While Joyce explores different styles of writing in each Episode, Mitchell’s pyrotechnics are on display throughout.

However, the stylistic resemblance is most apparent in Chapter 5, where Mitchell playfully works his way through as many figures of speech as he can in the space of 66 pages (alliteration, assonance, consonance, euphony, hyperbole, puns, rhyme, probably many more that I’ll leave you to detect).

This happens to be a chapter in which Mitchell conjures a novel within a novel and the character in the internal novel realises that he is being written.

It’s important that you not take him too seriously.

He’s not using purple prose to display his intellectualism.

He’s playing with words in the most Joycean or Nabokovian fashion.

”First frost floated a wafer of ice on edelweiss wine.”

”The fourth noise, the whisperings which Goatwriter was waiting for, was still a way away, so Goatwriter rummaged for his respectable spectacles to leaf through a book of poems composed by Princess Nukada in the ninth century.”

”Suddenly the sky screamed at the top of its lungs.” (Note the Pynchoneque screaming.)

”A hoochy-koochy hooker honked.”

Then there are sentences you just read for the pleasure:

”The naked eyeball of the sun stared unblinkingly from a sky pinkish with dry heat.”

”A desert wind did nothing to cool the world it wandered through.”

”The road ran as straight as a mathematical constant to the vanishing point.”

”A quorum of quandom quokkas thumped off as Pithecanthropus flexed his powerful biceps, drummed his treble-barrelled chest and howled a mighty roar.”

Don’t worry if they don’t appeal to you. There are plenty of other jelly beans in the packet. There’s bound to be a flavour that you’ll savour.

Lookin' for Soul Food (and a Place to Eat)

Of course, sooner or later, one of us must know that Mitchell’s journey concerns stories and dreams.

Goatwriter seeks out and tells “truly untold tales”, yet is a character in one that is being told.

A character in one of Eiji’s dreams tells a story and remarks:

”Stories like that need morals. This is my moral. Trust what you dream. Not what you think.”

An Ogre in Eiji’s dream warns, “Be very careful what you dream.”

An old lady exchanges persimmons for dreams that give her nourishment and replenish her soul:

”You are too modern to understand. A dream is a fusion of spirit and matter. Fusion releases energy – hence sleep, with dreams, refreshes. In fact, without dreams, you cannot hold on to your mind for more than a week. Old ladies of my longevity feed on the dreams of healthy youngsters such as yourself.”

”Dreams are the shores where the ocean of spirit meets the land of matter. Beaches where the yet-to-be, the once were, the will-never-be may walk amid the still-are.”

In a world of telephones, televisions, computers, technology, we have lost touch with the tactile and the spiritual, we have become too analytical and serious.

We have lost our sense of humour and absurdity and play.

We are not being refreshed the way we need to be.

We are consuming too many spirits of an alcoholic nature and too little soul food.

number9dream (Lennon’s on Sale Again)

Of course, “#9 Dream” is the name of a John Lennon song, and Lennon features in the novel.

Eiji plays guitar and learns how to play all of John Lennon’s songs.

He meets Lennon in a dream and discusses the meaning of three songs: “Tomorrow Never Knows”, "Norwegian Wood” and “#9 Dream”.

Eiji asks Lennon about the meaning of “Tomorrow Never Knows”.

John jokes, “I never knew” (and they “giggle helplessly”).

John explains that the song wrote him, rather than him writing it.

Character John is being a bit disingenuous here.

In the song, real John advises “turn off your mind, relax and float downstream”, “lay down all thoughts and surrender to the void”, “listen to the colour of your dreams” and “play the game ‘Existence’ to the end/of the beginning”:

“Love is all and love is everyone
It is knowing.”

These messages are consistent with the themes of the novel.

Character John also reveals that “#9 Dream” is a descendant of “Norwegian Wood”.

Both are ghost stories. While “Norwegian Wood” is concerned with loneliness, “#9 Dream” is concerned with harmony: “two spirits dancing so strange”.

John also explains that “the ninth dream begins after every ending”.

In a sense, there is a sequence of eight dreams, the eighth dream ends the first cycle and is followed by a ninth dream which starts a new cycle.

This explains why chapter 9 of the novel is blank.

It is an empty capsule or container for Eiji (and the reader) to fill with our new vision.

After eight chapters, we have simply reached the end of the beginning.

If Sex was Nine

By the end of chapter 8, Eiji has completed his quests for his father and a partner, in different ways.

At the very end, we see him running from the news that there has been a massive earthquake in Tokyo.

Having resolved his own concerns, he must still live in a world dictated by the vagaries of Nature.

He might be Mother Nature’s Son, but he cannot impose his Will on her.

However, just as he might be running from disaster, he is running towards his future, hopefully towards the embrace of his new love, Ai.

He is escaping from something to something else.

As real John says, he is floating downstream, he is not dying.

West Meets East

There is much more I could say about the detail of the novel.

However, I will leave that to you and to others to explore.

I want to say something more about why I rate David Mitchell so highly as an author.

Mitchell doesn’t just write within the Western literary tradition.

His wife, Keiko (to whom he dedicated this book), is Japanese and they lived for many years in Japan.

Henry James sought to understand himself by exploring the relationship between the new America and the old Europe.

Joseph Conrad sought to understand the Enlightenment of Europe in contrast to the Darkness of Africa.

Like John and Yoko, Mitchell works at the intersection of East and West.

While at the time of writing he understood and was influenced by Murakami, he has his own distinct and unique voice.

The world is not dominated by America or Europe anymore.

The future will contain (already contains) Asian DNA.

Mitchell understands this and has been exploring it since he first sat at a writing bureau with a pen.

His Odyssey extended beyond the Middle East and discovered the Far East (sorry if I offend anyone by using that term, but it says what I need it to say in this context).

Whereas Ulysses returned home to Helen of Troy and Bloom duplicated his journey internally within Dublin, Mitchell and his characters have made their home in a global village.

They don’t need to return anywhere, because they are comfortable anywhere on this planet.

Despite the fragmentation of society by technology and modernism, Mitchell is a Great Integrator.

I said at the beginning that I wanted to make a case that Mitchell is a 21st century James Joyce.

This case is closed.

Postscript: ”If You'll Be My Bodyguard”

On the occasion of her death during the week of this review, I want to dedicate this review to Whitney Houston, who I totally adored in “The Bodyguard”.

I wore a hired uniform for a week after that film.

The film was directed by Lawrence Kasdan (one of my favourite directors, who also directed “The Big Chill”, from which Kevin Costner’s role as "Alex" - the dead guy - was cut).

However, the film was also an important statement about the portrayal of inter-racial romance in Hollywood, only it involved a relationship between a white man and a black woman.

Hollywood hasn’t had the guts to feature a relationship between a black man and a white woman (like Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie).

I’m sorry if I offend anybody by saying that.

David Mitchell writes for and about a world in which the answer to the question “how will I know if he really loves me” is color-blind.

All hail, David Mitchell and the ship you sail in.

Genesis 9:09 (Unauthorised)

"So they went into the ark with Noah, by twos, of all flesh and of all colours, in which was the breath of life."
Profile Image for Mary.
425 reviews773 followers
August 26, 2016
A story about a 20 year old boy-man looking for the dad he's never met. In theory. Yawn. It's like someone said to David Mitchell "Take this cliched plot, drop some acid and see what happens."

And what happens is a lot.

The first chapter had me scratching my head. Wait no, I'll be honest, it wasn't that civilized. It had me kicking my feet and sighing and slamming down my coffee cup and internally screeching what the eff is going on here?! Not much later I realized, oh, ohhhh, this is what's going on. Sort of. He's doing stuff. Good stuff. Dream sequences and fantasies and what ifs and all that jazz. The result was starting to seem like Murakami - if Murakami had consumed seventeen red bulls and a baggie of speed. Chaotic and frantic and the makings of awesomeness.

By chapter two I began to think the trick to this book was to stop trying to get it and just go with it. Just let it take me at breakneck speed through the underground imaginary dreamy creepy deathly tunnels and streets of Mitchell's Tokyo. (Stop trying to make it Murakami's Tokyo, Mary!) By chapter three I was immersed and thinking back to chapter one and how much fun this whole crazy book is. Escapism. I'm doing it and so is Eiji. Dozens of realities exist in our heads, hundreds of forks in the road, which would we take? How much fun is it to blow up buildings and people and be a super hero in our heads while sipping coffee in a diner and people watching?

By chapter four and five I was annoyed and slightly bored. This book is like a sugar rush and halfway through it I crashed. It was like a Monday morning at work when everything is busy and phones are ringing and corporate heads are quacking and I'm zoned out and living twelve different lives in my head, like the early parts of the story....and then mid way through the book I look up and it's mid afternoon and people are feeding quarters into the office vending machine to purchase the will to keep going and I'm spent and just wanna go home already (it's hard work pretending to work hard).

So yeah. This book is like that.

The key I think is to just not take it so seriously. There is something sterile, something detached about Eiji and his life. His world/s are cold and dark and so is this book. Yet, it downright hysterical throughout. It's creative and different and challenging - and those are all wonderful things for a book to be.
Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
871 reviews1,760 followers
May 14, 2021

Found myself somewhere in the middle of rating scales. There were parts that I enjoyed and then there were dreams that didn't make any sense or perhaps my pea sized brain was unable to dissect and deduct any conclusion of what I had read. Will write more once I gather my thoughts on this or whatever I will be left with of this book in my memories.
Profile Image for Steve.
251 reviews871 followers
November 7, 2011
You know those compound German constructions, like schadenfreude, comprised of dissimilar single words? Well, I’ve got a new one that ought to exist if it doesn’t already. It’s schadenselbstungeduld, which translates roughly to “the sadness of your own impatience.” Maybe you can guess why I’m bringing this up. I’ve had a bad case of it since last month when I joined the ranks of several Goodreads friends who have read all five of the David Mitchell books. We’re now waiting long days, weeks, or, heaven forfend, even months for him to give us our next fix.

As a last high from the current stash, number9dream was a good one. And the ending, about which my keyboard remains silent, made me want more – no, in fact, more than that – more to the 9th power. The main character, Eiji, is a young man with problems. Parental abandonment is certainly part of it. A separate tragedy from his boyhood is always at the fore as well. He goes to Tokyo to resolve what he can, but he’s not all that practical. In fact, his daydreams and fantasies often get in the way. They’re a useful device for Mitchell, though, since they give his creative juices a chance to flow (if not gush) freely. As for Eiji’s real life, it’s a multifarious journey. His destination is sometimes diffuse, but seems to include acceptance of his situation, love, a sense of self, and whatever else coming of age stories are meant to bring. Along the way he meets some interesting people, drawn in Mitchell’s customary way to a full human scale. Eiji also meets a few scum-of-the-earth types from warring yakuza gangs. The plot features plenty of action, some that seems as crazy as Eiji’s dreams. (At one point it struck me as funny that it mattered so much to me to know if a scene was a made-up dream when, in fact, a work of fiction is itself made up. But you see where I was coming from – I wanted to know what was what for the integrity of the story (as opposed to the story within the story, nested like these parentheses.))

The only points I took off for in this otherwise excellent book were for a few heinous crime sequences that I felt were over-the-top. I almost got the sense that Mitchell didn’t feel the reality of them either (within the story, that is) since Eiji didn’t seem as affected by them as a real, sentient person probably would be. The pyrotechnics are something I think Mitchell has always been drawn to, and he seems to have learned since how to modulate his use of them. Cloud Atlas, his next book after this one, provides all the evidence you need of his ultimate mastery.

Back to number9dream and its many positives:

-- The little narrative devices worked – lots of perspectives and styles including cyberpunk, crime drama (boiled good and hard), fantasy (a kid’s story within the story about a goat who would sometimes unwittingly eat the pages he wrote), and military history (a moving tale in epistolary form of a suicide mission in WWII).

-- Eiji is a very likable character. You’re happy for every small victory and anxious with every new threat.

-- The young lady he likes, the waitress with the beautiful neck and sublime musical talent, is wise beyond her years. She’s given some thought-provoking lines.

-- Those of us who are big DM fans have always liked the way he writes. He has fun, he chooses his words well, and he’s very creative with both structure and concept. That’s all in evidence here.

-- People tell me that after DM, HM (Murakami) should be next. Is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle a good choice?

I’ll end this with a personal note to David since he seems likely to respond to the pleas of his devoted fans. Will you please hurry up with that next one?! You don’t seem like the type to revel in schadenfreude at our collective schadenselbstungeduld.
Profile Image for Stephen M.
137 reviews603 followers
October 12, 2012
A Study of Tales or
“Like watching a musician play his scales very, very well”


The tension between style and substance dominates a significant portion of the David Mitchell conversation. Fairly consistently Mitchell’s writing falls into the style side of this writing dichotomy. As with anything, it's an issue of taste for anyone who has dipped their hand into the creative writing pot. It splits writers of all different stripes, in genre, literature or otherwise with geniuses on both sides. To me, the definitive distinction falls between those one care more about the content that the words purport to signify versus those who care more about the words themselves, deriving aesthetic pleasure from the effect that words can have, even if tangentially related to their referents. Finding a particular niche in workshops and MFA circles, accusations of purple prose and self-indulgent descriptions fly freely from minimalist tongues towards those of the latter camp. I am an inveterate defender of that latter camp. I've always considered content to be accidental; I read literature because I love words. I want to be dazzled by what they are capable of on their own, unburdened by the requirements of their referents.

I think anyone with a taste for poetry and excessive prose will agree with these sentiments. When I declare Mitchell a brilliant writer, I don’t mean it any capacity to strip down the prose and tell some brutally honest tale in the Hemingway sense; he’s not in that business. I don’t mean to say that he spins out a deft plot, a wildly original story (he wears his influences on his sleeves) but rather, I mean that David Mitchell is a level-ten wordsmither, capable of making any situation, no matter how banal or derivative come alive with soaring prose.

Goatwriter, the stutterer, writes an untellable story

I think that the frustration that most people find with this book is that it's scatterbrained and unfocused. My previous apologetic move was to point out a flaw in Mitchell’s ambition that he tried to cover too much ground and was unable to make good on his original intentions. Upon a second reading, I now see that the book is exactly as it should be. What seems to be a mess of splintered threads and tangential story lines is really the product of a book about the search for meaning. As it is with any book that treats this topic (Crying of the Lot comes to mind), it is part of the function of the book to simulate the frustration that arises from seeking meaning out of a chaotic external world.

On the one hand, Mitchell is showing us all the literary gymnastics he is capable of pulling off. On the other hand, he is imbuing us with the experience of Mr. Eiji Miyake, a twenty year old cast away in the big city for the first time, confronted with first loves, loss of innocence, struggling to find out what it is that matters to him. Of the thousands of avenues into the buildingsroman, Mitchell takes this route, an exploration into the fertile time period of your 20's ripe with existential crises, one night stands and cigarettes.

Confusion is justified. On my first reading, I was thoroughly confused by the misadventures of Goatwriter in his anthropomorphic fantasy land. Now it is my favorite part of the book. It is full of genuine hilarity and brilliant wordplay and it highlights the struggle to reach some elusive, ultimate meaning. It seems so ineffable. The only true story and the ultimate meaning therein is the one that hasn’t been told, the ninth dream that begins when all other dreams fall away.

Meaning is what we intuit from disparate facts after we’ve exhausted all immediate evidence.

The ninth dream is a blank slate for the reader to project his/her meaning upon the book.

The final words of anything hums with significance, a real goosebump affair that sends the reader back to the beginning to begin his search for meaning all over again.
Profile Image for Peter Boyle.
488 reviews596 followers
July 17, 2017
Do you ever set books aside for a special occasion? I like to keep certain novels on hold for holidays, so that when I reminisce about a particular vacation, I will also think about what I was reading at the time. I have very fond memories of devouring The Goldfinch on a visit to London a couple of years ago, and being so immersed in the story that I almost missed my plane. David Mitchell is one of my favourite writers and I had been saving number9dream for a while now. I took it with me on a trip to Munich last week and I'm happy to report that it didn't disappoint.

Eiji Miyake is our hero, a nineteen-year-old boy from the tiny island of Yakushima off the coast of Japan. He arrives in Tokyo on a mission to locate his father, whom he has never met. Eiji feels alone in the world, abandoned by a troubled mother and still mourning the loss of his beloved sister Anju. But his visit to this restless, pulsing city will take on him a wild adventure of gangsters, hackers and potential love interests. Whether or not he finds what he is looking for, his life will never be the same again.

Eiji is a daydreamer and dreams are a very important part of this novel. Indeed the story begins with a number of his fantasies as he summons the courage to enter the office of his father's lawyer. It gives David Mitchell the license to exercise his colourful imagination - Eiji pictures himself assassinating Yakuza mobsters like a scene from an action movie, and becoming the saviour of a flood that rapidly engulfs the city. Later on the book Eiji's dreams seem to take on greater meaning, as his subconscious attempts to make sense of everything that has happened to him on his Tokyo expedition.

Readers of David Mitchell will know how ambitious his novels are, and it is something I admire him for. He takes great risks with structure, and number9dream is no different. We are served up stories within stories - one chapter contains excerpts from the journal of Eiji's great uncle, a suicide bomber during World War II. In another section Eiji hides out at the home of a writer and passes the time by reading her latest manuscript, which features three talking animals who ride around in a self-driving coach. Parts of this bizarre tale are interspersed with the main text.

Not all of these literary tricks work and to be honest I grew a little weary of the distractions from the principal story. Though dreams have a major role to play in this sprawling tale, it works best when it is anchored in the real world. The slow blossom of Eiji's relationship with Ai, his desperate longing for his unseen father, his heart-wrenching memories of Anju - these were the parts of the novel I loved most and will remember.

This was Mitchell's second novel and it is the work of a writer still honing his craft. Though it doesn't quite hit the heights of Cloud Atlas, it is a true delight to experience his unfettered imagination in full flow. number9dream an audacious, dazzling book - an acrobatic feat of storytelling that never fails to entertain.
Profile Image for Nat K.
415 reviews155 followers
July 8, 2022
”How do daydreams translate into reality?”

Another book which proves what an absolute genius and magician David Mitchell is as a Writer. Yes, my head exploded again 💥

The book opens with a sequence of Dali-esque daydreams, where a young Eiji Miyake fantasises about how, in true James Bond style, he would bombard the office of his father’s lawyers to discover the true identity of the father he never knew.

Of course real life is not as simple, nor as glamorous. In reality, nineteen year old Eiji Miyake lives in a stuffy “capsule” above the Shooting Star video store. With a guitar, cockroach and Cat for company. He’s arrived in Tokyo two weeks previously, and the hustle, bustle and constant movement of the massive city gives him a feeling of both inertia and vertigo at the same time. He lives on pot noodles, adores John Lennon, as well as the girl ”with the perfect neck”, who also happens to be a waitress at the Jupiter Café, which is where Eiji holds his stakeouts, as he watches the PanOpticon offices, where his father’s file is held.

”I calculate the number of days I have been alive on a paper serviette – 7,290, including four leap years.”

To say more is to divulge too much, and to be honest, I don’t even know where to begin or how to explain such a fantastical story. As I said in my review of Ghostwritten, Mitchell’s writing is something you need to experience for yourself.

There is a macabre scene in a bowling alley, and another at a card game. The Queen of Spades is lucky for some. We meet a Goatwriter (so darn clever!) who eats his own manuscripts, and wonders who stole them. There is a lady who catches dreams and lives off them (to the ripe old age of 500). A vengeful Thunder God. A master hacker whose “Holy Grail” is targeting the Pentagon. A mailman virus. Messages at automatic teller machines. Discussions about nightmares and why they are important. Cadillacs. Organ harvesting. There are Yakuza, and shoot outs, gentleman’s clubs and love hotels. Eiji Miyake had no idea he would ever get mixed up in so much. It was beyond his wildest dreams…

”I should not be in this nightmare.”

And this is where it gets interesting. A dreamlike state and reality often blend into one. Many times the line is merged. What is real and what is a dream? Sometimes it is hard to tell. There is some hyperviolence, yet the stand off between opposing firms of the Yakuza was ridiculously amusing, with a cartoonish quality. Mama-san knitting as awful acts of violence are enacted like a video game. Time jumps forwards and back. We are seeing events unravel with Eiji’s eyes. We are watching his dreams with him.

”I could almost enjoy the ride if I weren’t being abducted by Yakuza and I weren’t going to lose my job.”

We feel the deep hurt and guilt he carries with him, at feeling responsible for his twin sister’s death, at the age of 11. Anju is forever in Eiji’s thoughts. Her loss is a great burden to him, due a pact which he made as a youngster to the Thunder God. Eiji is estranged from his Mum, who has not been well, and spent her adult life battling alcoholism and other demons. Part of his journey is to not only find his father, but to attempt to heal his relationship with his Mum. And to forgive himself.

We also see a few characters pop-up from Ghostwritten (one obvious and another much harder to spot), which is all part of the magic of the “multiverse” (or “Mitchellverse”) that he has so brilliantly created.

There’s a lot of humour in amongst serious topics and violence. I particularly enjoyed the cameos of John and Yoko throughout the book. Yes, the song #9 is discussed, and this is probably one of my favourite parts of the story (along with the other both obvious and subtle Beatles lyrics which are scattered like breadcrumbs throughout the book). Lennon had a sharp, satirical sense of humour. As you’ve probably guessed from the book title, the Number 9 is incredibly important, and will appear repeatedly in different formats throughout. Suffice to say, John Lennon’s Birthday is October 9. Enough said.

”The ninth dream begins after every ending.”

I commented often to Neale - who I buddy read this with - that this book also has a distinct Murakami feel, as Ghostwritten did (and I even joked that they are one and the same person). It has that surreal, absurdist vibe. And absolute dreamlike state. Again, I mean this is the greatest compliment (as anyone who’s read other reviews of mine) will know that I adore Murakami.

”How come people have different meanings of life?”

Something that I love (and forgot to mention in my review of Mitchell’s book Ghostwritten), is that the chapters have titles! I always love it when writers do this. For me it makes the book sing even more.

I took off a star because I really struggled with the chapter titled Video Games. Not only because I have no interest in them, but because of the dialogue and subject matter spoken about by bad boy Yuzu Daimon. I realise this was done to show his innate character, but I was appalled it, and I found it very difficult to move beyond. So if this chapter was removed or edited heavily, I’d be a happy little vegemite, and this would be a five star read.

Book 2 (but dream 9) of the David Mitchell-a-thon. Thank you John. Thank you Yoko.

Another buddy read with the wonderful, talented Mr.Neale-ski. We had lots of interesting discussions, and more than one difference of perspective, which then led to even more interesting discussions. It’s that kind of book. The David Mitchell Odyssey will continue with Book 3 Cloud Atlas.

Please read Neale’s fab review, as he has included many important events and perspectives that I left out of mine:

There is also an interview with David Mitchell (or is it Haruki Murakami in disguise?) on Neale's fab book blog. Check it out!

”So many stars. What are they for?”

Postscript! I've just realised on finally completing this review, that the references to the Number 9 began with his first book Ghostwritten. I'm sure some other very clever reviewer (or two, or nine!) spotted this, but I am trying not to read too many reviews of Mitchell's books, as I don't want my perception to be clouded over. I was most excited to notice this. Gold star for me.
Profile Image for tim.
66 reviews62 followers
September 15, 2009
Number9Dream, what is a relatively administered star-rating system compared to the joy I experience while reading you? Faults and all.

I don't completely understand everything you revealed with my mind awake, but your echo resonates lucidly through my dreamtime. You say: "Time may be what stops everything happening at once, but rules are different asleep." How I know this to be true, yet could never prove.

Fantasies and dreams. Cause and effect. Repeated conclusions reveal nothing where conclusions don't exist. What we experience, day and night, happens, regardless of comprehensible explanations.

"Dreams are shores where the ocean of spirit meets the land of matter...where the yet-to-be, the once-were, the will-never-be may walk awhile with the still-are."

With eyes open or closed, meaning lurks everywhere amongst these pages, knowing no boundaries.
Profile Image for Hannah.
238 reviews59 followers
April 27, 2019
5 Stars - Phenomenal book!

This is the fourth David Mitchell book I’ve read, and none have disappointed. Every time I start a new book by this author I’m hesitant because I figure, by the law of averages, that one has to be a dud. I have not found that “one” yet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if I never found it.

This book is so beautifully written. It's strange and heart wrenching, funny and relatable. I have never known another author to compact so many emotions into one book and make the book a good read.

In short, this book is about Eiji Miyake and his search for his birth father. Seems simple enough, however that is not the case when Mitchell is the one writing the story. We follow Miyake's actual life and his dreams, what could have been. I don't want to give too much away because this book deserves to be read. However, I will say that the title comes from the John Lennon song by the same name (#9 Dream). David Mitchell and John Lennon. How can that be anything other than spectacular?!

I like to think of this book as surrealist art personified, or written and quantified in some way. It's hard to describe. Imagine if a Dalí or Magritte painting was a book. This would be that book. I'm still having trouble putting into words how fantastic this book is.

I also appreciate how different this is from his author books. Don't get me wrong, this is style very clearly by the same guy who wrote my beloved Slade House, The Bone Clocks, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. Yet this story seems to be rooted in more reality than the others, or at least that's how it felt to me. I think that's because the base story (that's what I call the generally plot of Mitchell's books - or what the main character is going through. I know I'm not explaining myself very well) makes the most sense to me. No, I But I think that that storyline isn't uncommon or groundbreaking and it's familiar and something I know that a lot of people can relate to on many levels. It was real. And when the real is wrapped in this sci-fi/fantasy it makes for an incredible story.

Do I recommend this book? Look, I understand that Mitchell's style is not for everyone - especially and including this book. If you're not a fan of the author I guarantee you won't like this book. Though of course, because I loved the book, I want everyone to read it and enjoy it as much as I did.
Profile Image for Cecily.
1,116 reviews3,956 followers
February 23, 2021
Set in Japan in the present or perhaps the near future, with several versions of early bits of the plot. Is it real or is it a computer game - certainly he plays computer games?

Some wonderful metaphors and some ludicrously contrived and awkward ones. Too much organised crime and mindless violence for my taste, with little of the beauty of his other books to provide balance or contrast. (Number 9 Dream is a Beatles song that plays at a disco in Black Swan Green, which I reviewed HERE.)

See also Murakami's Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, which I reviewed HERE. Mitchell acknowledges Murakami as an inspiration in general, and there are some similarities between this and one of the two threads in Hard-Boiled Wonderland.
Profile Image for Darwin8u.
1,559 reviews8,685 followers
June 28, 2016
“Reality is the page. Life is the word.”
― David Mitchell, number9dream


Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé

Another book I'm going to have to chew on for a bit to really bend my mental tongue around. At first, I was a little disappointed in it. This is my last Mitchell book left to read (I am now a Mitchell completist) and I was hoping for just a little more PoMo juice to squeeze out of his second novel. Three dreams into it and I was afraid Mitchell was aping Murakami (Norwegian Wood, A Wild Sheep Chase) and Joyce (Finnegans Wake) a bit too much in his persuit of a dreamy father-quest novel.

By the end, however, Mitchell salvaged the novel. It still seemed a little too packaged, too sterile, too neat and measured. Don't get me wrong, I liked it and obviously (I've now read all of Mitchell) I like how Mitchell writes, but I'm not sure #9Dream is even close to being top shelf for me of Mitchell's novels.
Profile Image for Roula.
498 reviews137 followers
July 14, 2019
Number9dream ή αλλιώς ο κακός χαμός.όπως έχω ξαναπεί φυλάω τα λιγοστά βιβλία του Mitchell που δεν έχω διαβάσει ως θησαυρούς για τις πολύ δύσκολες στιγμές. Έτσι αποφάσισα να ξεκι ησω το προτελευταίο από τα βιβλία του πιυ δεν έχω διαβάσει ακόμη σε μια δύσκολη αναγνωστική χρόνια που έχω πέσει σε ένα τέλμα, ελπίζοντας να μου δώσει μια ευχάριστη αναγνωστική εμπειρία και ένα boost στο διάβασμα μου.. Και το κατάφερε με το παραπάνω..
Το βιβλίο αυτό του αγαπημένου μου David Mitchell είναι μια πραγματική περιπέτεια, ένα ταξίδι που σχεδόν ποτέ δεν ξέρεις αν βρίσκεσαι στην πραγματικότητα ή σε ένα όνειρο ή στη φαντασία κάποιου, αλλά από την άλλη δεν έχει και καμιά σημασία αυτό. Μια ιστορία ενηλικίωσης, ένας νεαρός που ψάχνει τον πραγματικό του πατέρα και πιστεύει ότι αυτό ακριβώς είναι το νόημα της ζωής του. Ψάχνοντας θα βρει πολλά στο δρόμο του.. Το Τόκυο, τη Γιακουζα (!), ένα ημερολόγιο με αναμνήσεις, τον Τζον Λένον να του λέει ότι το "tomorrow never knows" δε το έγραψε εκείνος, αλλά εκείνο τον έγραψε.. Και ένα σωρό άλλα άσχετα και σχετικά που μόνο αν διαβάσετε το βιβλίο θα καταλάβετε πως δένουν μεταξύ τους. Ξεκίνησα πιο χαλαρά την ανάγνωση του βιβλίου και πίστευα ότι δε θα με κερδίσει ως το τέλος, αλλά τελικά ανακάλυψα πως ο, τι έχει να πει με το μοναδικό του τρόπο ο Mitchell, πραγματικά με ενδιαφέρει και με τραβάει. Είναι ένα βιβλίο αφιερωμένο σε όσα αγαπά και θαυμάζει ο συγγραφέας με κυριότερο τον Μουρακαμι, κάτι που γίνεται ιδιαίτερα σαφές σε αυτό του το μυθιστόρημα. Εξαιρετικό. Ειδικά αν αναλογιστεί κάνεις ότι ήταν μόλις το 2ο βιβλίο του..
Profile Image for Neale .
292 reviews131 followers
March 7, 2022
Eiji Miyaki has travelled to Japan determined to find the father who abandoned him, his mother and sister. A gargantuan task with Eiji not even knowing his father’s name or whereabouts. What transpires while Eiji is searching is at times bizarre, surreal, dreamlike.

The first chapter opens with Eiji breaking into the Panopticon building in which he believes that a lawyer there has vital information on his father’s whereabouts. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this is the first of many dream sequences, the reader will pick that up quickly.

Following chapters will find Eiji reading his great uncle’s war journal. Chronicling the suicide attacks the Japanese made in the giant Kaiten suicide submarines towards the end of the Second World War. Reading a children’s book manuscript while hiding out from the Yakuza. The manuscript is absurd, it is a children’s book, but the writing is beautiful, rhyming, I have never seen so much alliteration before. I get the feeling that Mitchell enjoyed writing this chapter. The lead character is a goat called Goatwriter who stutters (Mitchell used to stutter) and eats his own manuscripts.

Speaking of the Yakuza. They play a prominent role in Eiji’s search as well, as he finds himself mixed up with a young man, who inadvertently brings Eiji to the attention of one of the Yakuza bosses resulting in Eiji being drawn into the deadly, dangerous world of the Japanese underbelly.

Just like his previous novel “Ghostwritten” all these chapters are linked in a variety of different ways. And just like his debut novel he switches genres seamlessly. There are even references to events, objects and characters from “Ghostwritten”. It is all part of Mitchell’s multiverse. Half the fun of reading this novel is finding all the connections. The references to the number nine myriad. Wait until you read chapter nine. The major difference is that this novel all revolves around Eiji and his search and feels more cohesive than “Ghostwritten”, which although equally as good, does have a random feel to it at times.

Embedded within these chapters of dreams and journals, manuscripts and memories, the story of Eiji’s search in the present takes place. There are also flashbacks to his childhood and his sister Anju, who does not feature heavily in the book but has an integral role. Her death, a guilt that Eiji cannot shake and has carried with him for nine years.

Chapter eight is a highlight for me with Eiji falling helplessly from dream to dream. Mitchell describes it so well. The randomness of dreams, and yet paradoxically the connections formed between the same random dreams. This is a truly surreal chapter with the reader transported into Eiji’s dreams. His subconscious mind connecting events and people he has met in the last few weeks of his search. Dreams morphing from one to another.

And again, Mitchell’s descriptions of Japan, Tokyo and it’s claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s sights, it’s sounds and smells, is brilliantly written in his descriptive style. Not only locations but the writing in general,

“I sugarize my coffee, rest my teaspoon on the meniscus, and slowly dribble the cream on to the bowl of the spoon. Pangea rotates, floating unruptured before splitting into subcontinents. Playing with coffee is the only pleasure I can afford in Tokyo.”

I don’t think I have ever read such a dreamlike description of stirring your coffee.

To top it all off Mitchell leaves the reader with a thoroughly ambiguous ending. Which leaves the reader wondering, and I am sure that many people have different views on what has happened and what it means.

I think the only gripe I have is that chapter three, “Video Games” does not really work for me. I think the book would have been better without this chapter but that is a personal issue, others may love it with video games very much part of Japanese culture.

This was the second book in the David Mitchellathon, in which Nat K and I are reading all of Michell’s books in chronological order. We filled pages of discussion talking about this book and Nat found many points and references I had missed. It also helped that Nat is a massive Beatles fan proving invaluable to me with the Lennon references and passages. Please check out her review when she posts it. It will be far superior to mine.
Profile Image for Shovelmonkey1.
353 reviews874 followers
January 21, 2012
Mild Seven
Philip Morris
Marlborough Light

That's the number of different cigarette brands cited and smoked in this novel. Frankly, it's a good job that this book only covers 8 weeks in the life of narrator and protagonist, Eeji Miyake, because he's unlikely to live for too much longer.

Follow Miyake as he smokes, gurns, fantasises and bull-shits his way around Tokyo trying to find his long-lost Pops and enjoy the literary games and jousting word-smithery that accompanies this. David Mitchell has once again cleared his literary throat and spewed forth a load of different writing styles. Mostly you are left with the impression that he write to amuse himself; it's a way of stretching some newly formed literary muscle that he's developed.

Very clever Mr Mitchell, and better than Cloud Atlas (for me anyway), but cleverness and a big collection of exercises in grammatical madness be it alliterative, metaphorical, tautological, allusion or allegorical can only take you so far before the reader decides they don't want to have to look that hard for a story within a complexly constructed chain of words. The vocab equivalent of the Gordion knot where a clean slice at it will only get your paper cuts and not answers.
Profile Image for Ron.
386 reviews88 followers
February 9, 2020
“A semi-orphan comes to Tokyo in search of the father he has never met”, says a man to Eiji Miyake, speaking not of himself, but of Eiji. In a simple sentence, it is the truth. This is Eiji's quest. Through his long, twisting and sometimes fantastically dangerous journey, I learned that the quest can get in the way of the real purpose. Eiji's real truth will be revealed through the people he meets along the way, and the past that follows him, found only within a huge city among millions where he first embarks alone.

After finishing this book, I couldn't help but try to decipher the meanings, which are many. It's that kind of book. For the most part, I think the ending is left up to each of us, and within it I found an answer (frustrating as it may be for some). Much of the rest, like how John Lennon fits into Miyake's story, why the number 9 relates to each circumstance, or the meanings of the imaginative dreams that fill his sleep, are not so easy. Understanding them may be as elusive as interpreting our own dreams. I'm good with that, because I don't think my understanding matters as much as it does Eiji's.
Profile Image for ·Karen·.
614 reviews762 followers
June 19, 2011
The devil has all the best tunes, and the fiendish Mr Mitchell is in cahoots with Old Nick for the best stories too. What worries me is what the deal involves? Selling your soul to Mephistopheles is a risky manoeuvre for sure. This, Mitchell's second novel and the last one that I had not read, is the story of one who is punished by the God of Thunder, by being given exactly what he asked for. Beware of what you wish for, as it may be granted. Having lost his twin sister in that deal, bereft of a mother too, his quest to find the father he never knew becomes a compulsion that drives him into another perilous bargain with the Prince of Darkness himself, the head of one of the warring Yakuza gangs of Tokyo. What follows is the kind of heady mix that previous work of Michell's has led me to expect: pulp fiction type action, cyberwars, video games, city life, history, dreams, family, love, music, all blended to a fairground ride that has the pace of a thriller. Reality, fantasy, dream, jumps in time: keeping up with where you are is challenging; the rewards are more than compensation enough.
Profile Image for Ian Laird.
297 reviews60 followers
February 10, 2017
Revisionism: 27 August 2015
It’s a fine winter’s day in Sydney.

Earlier and somewhat dyspeptically, I threw my hands up about number9dream because I was confused. I found the story hard to follow and did not know what was real and what was fantasy.

With time it has occurred to me that I should give more mature consideration to the essence of the story: the fluttering distractions have fallen to the ground and the broader landscape has become clearer. The story is a boy’s search; ostensibly for his father, but perhaps also about a boy becoming a man, gaining some experience, albeit not always pleasant, sometimes dangerous and even terrifying, searching for himself, and growing up.

So I might not be able to sort out in my head the meaning of Panopticon and the cartoonish lawyer Akikoi Kato, the deadly adventures with the Yakuza, brilliant set pieces though they are, the story telling animals, mini submarines in World War Two; and why chapter 9 is blank. Why is chapter 9 blank?

I can see the truth about the waitress with the beautiful neck who plays music so well the truth about her and Eiji. That is real.

The weather in Sydney is pleasantly mild now. [Note to self: move book to three stars.]

This is what I wrote earlier:

This is by way of a preliminary review, done in a state of confused uncertainty heightened by near cyclonic weather conditions in Sydney and all along the coast of New South Wales.

I have finally got through this frustrating and difficult book after making at least four, possibly five attempts over the past twelve months. I always got to about page 50 or 60 and then stopped, confused and bewildered by the story/plot/goings on. But in recent weeks I have persisted. But to what end?

Eiji Miyake is a gormless youth looking for his father, who may be a cabinet minister, a yakuza godfather or a lawyer. His mother may have tried to kill him. His sister drowned. He appears to be engaged in a bizarre mission impossible single person attack on a law office; finds himself caught in the crossfire of a yakuza war; in love with someone who works in a café, plays the piano and has the hots for Debussy. Eiji's distant ancestor was a suicide mini submarine pilot in the bushido tradition.

And so on...what does it all mean?

I was not ill-prepared for this, I contend. I enjoyed, immensely, the intricate plotting and creative imagination Mitchell brings to Ghostwritten. But this one, I had to slog all the way through - I am trying to get to Cloud Atlas.

And what's with the nines? I get that they keep turning up, but to what purpose? Perhaps I should take up smoking again enjoy a Carlton/Parliament/Cabin and chill.
Profile Image for Girish.
847 reviews208 followers
February 10, 2018
It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams

Writing a book and telling a story are obviously two very different projects especially for an author like Mr.Mitchell. And so, in what is probably the most straightforward plot of a boy in search of his father, the author packs a whole lot of freudian pyrotechnics that blur lines between plots, between genres and between reality.

Eiji Miyake reaches 'Tokyo' in search of his father. The Tokyo of Mitchell is a surreal place with characters constantly in search/with dreams of something. The first chapter with sequence of dreams to find the identity of his father is sufficient to discourage a rational reader on the lookout for a conventional read. And then to the pleasant surprise the book introduces characters that recur across chapters! (a first for Mr.Mitchell). But that is about as normal as it would go.

We have underground mafia pulp fiction, psychedelic video game narratives, war memoirs, weird erotica of sorts (for the lack of better word) all are made to fit into the narrative. In one of the chapters we see a stuttering novelist Goatwriter in search of an untold story along with his hen assistant and neanderthal assistant which is a meta on the novelist. In another, we meet John Lennon who discusses his songs in a dream state. Plus the #9 Easter egg which you keep ticking off in your head whenever you encounter.

"#9dream is a descendent of Norwegian Wood says John Lennon"
A reference to both the songs by John Lennon and an veiled flattery to Haruki Murakami. (About time I picked up a Murakami)

The eruption of fantastic stories weave around the ordinariness of Miyake's 7 weeks in Toyota. His work in the lost property office, the video parlor or later on at Nero's pizza, his sleepless nights looking at the Neon clock, the Cat and the Cockroach as roommates are written absorbingly. The subtle romance between Ai Imagio and Eiji is warm and so is the friendship with his unlikely friends of Suga the hacker and Banturo his landlord.

In addition we have the changing cigarette brands that is maddening for a reader which makes you wonder if the entire book is actually a lucid dream of an insomniac. In fact, the book will make you wonder if you dreamed reading the entire book.

Genius tribute of Mitchell. Not for everyone
Profile Image for Dax.
240 reviews109 followers
July 20, 2021
Mitchell's second offering dives into the age-old question of the meaning of life. For over four hundred pages, this novel takes us on a circular tale at a breakneck pace. It is easy to get caught up in the ironies, the coincidences and the over-the-top crime lord stuff, but Mitchell's gifted storytelling and imagination are really just there for our enjoyment. The real power of the novel comes from Mitchell's more sincere passages that typically deal with memories and relationships. It is not often that an author has an ability to go from bowling alley torture to introspective narrative so effortlessly. He is unique in that regard.

Thematically speaking, I kept thinking that this chaotic storyline, while a fun read, was somewhat misleading. Life can seem hectic and overwhelming, but sometimes we need to consider the larger picture. And the larger picture here is this; the purpose of life is not just to be a dreamer, but to evolve into someone who actively pursues their dreams. No spoilers here, but the ending of the novel is perfect for the thematic focus of the novel. Our daydreaming protagonist has finally uncovered the meaning of life for himself, and the ninth act will involve a man who takes his destiny in his own hands. As John Lennon explains to us; "the ninth dream begins after every ending." I have never read a novel where the ending seemed like a beginning, and it kind of blew me away.
Profile Image for Jonathan Terrington.
593 reviews559 followers
June 10, 2017
I apologise in advance if this seems more incoherent and rushed than anything I've written previously. I'm just so in awe of the bizarreness of number9dream that my thoughts are not settled on the book.

Okay what I want to know is what David Mitchell was taking when he wrote this...so I can join in with the elixir! Seriously this is a whacked out, crazy kind of book that's strangely compulsive reading but doesn't make a lot of sense in places. I must admit that the whole time I was reading it went like this:

First few chapters: Interesting, like the little anecdotal stories, don't see what they have to do with anything
Around 100 pages: Hang on the protagonist did what? What's he doing in that weird hotel (this was the part that I personally hated the most)
Around 200 pages in: Still doesn't make a lot of sense, but it's gripping reading
300 pages in: I still don't get it...
400 pages in: Done, I still don't get it, it's like a roller coaster ride on hallucinogens (not that I know what hallucinogens are like), fun but you don't know what ride you were on exactly

This was my second try at David Mitchell and I must say that this was as far from my usual reading as anything I have read. It was very, very different to Cloud Atlas. Where I saw some interesting ideas in Cloud Atlas, a kind of depth (personally) beyond the stylistic choice of writing, number9dream was more about the stylistic choices and fun entertaining tale than any depth. I think I'll have to try the other three David Mitchell books I have waiting to read rather than mull over this.

The plot of this is 'boy tries to find father in city, never having met Dad.' Yes the plot has been done to death but the way it is done is what matters and I think Mitchell was trying to write this book in a way to show that sometimes in life dreams turn out in the end to be disappointing failures and not how we think they should turn out. I think his encouragement is that that doesn't matter, that it is the process of trying to find our dream and who we meet that counts. Along the way through this story Mitchell throws in other little stories (humorous stories about religion which I found quite amusing), references to John Lenon, a diary of a human torpedo, sci-fi technologies and a whole plot involving the Yakuza.

On the whole a bizarre and zany novel with lots of quirkiness, but still highly entertaining. It was also a very fast read, much faster than Cloud Atlas but I didn't like it as much. If you liked Cloud Atlas you might like this. If you hated Cloud Atlas you might still like this. It's a book that I think will be liked depending on the individual's taste rather than it being a book that the majority of people will like.
Profile Image for Makrand.
158 reviews47 followers
July 26, 2022
Disorienting, Hazy and a waste of time.
As if marking the book as Abandoned wasn't enough tourture for my pitiful brain, I decided to rejoin where I had left since the mystery of Eiji's father haunted me for two nights!!

Since it's David Mitchell there's definitely aristocratic writing involved, a feeling that no single person can write chapters so distinct but that's DM.

Some parts from the book are splendid. The Kaiten episode, Queen of Spades game and the Pizza delivery magic tricks however sadly the book doesn't actually go anywhere but shuffles in and out of dreams and reality.

The last chapter is totally awesome. I could finish it with ease since it was the simplest of them all

Fortunately my rating remains the same.
Ps. If you hate Murakami books, Don't even dare to think of picking this up!

Number9dream wasn't for me. Sad.
1 Quest for a missing dad and 99 rambles is what the book was for me.

I tried really hard to stay with the author's various hints and stories but alas I had to give up.

Number9dream is about Eiji Miyake who is a small town teenager living in Tokyo and is on a quest to find his father.(so far)

David Mitchell's writing no doubt is super excellent but sadly this one is too hard to read. I almost lost my sense of reality when the stuttering Goatwriter, Mrs. Comb and Pithecanthropus landed in the book.

Tokyo's lifestyle, it's Mafia and Miyake's struggle is a delight to read. I still am Interested in finding out How does Eiji find his dad however I lack the patience to wade ahead.

There were so many 9's
Which was really fine
But would have been Divine
Had we known what it mean in Realtime


Ps. And oh I spotted Two characters from his last book. I'm sure more would be coming across ahead.
Profile Image for Deea.
308 reviews87 followers
August 26, 2016
This novel has an open ending, but there are clues regarding the possible developments of the story all over the last chapter. Although it has eight chapters and each has a name, the author ends the book with the ninth chapter which is simply called "Nine" and left empty. "The ninth dream begins after every ending", says David Mitchell, continuing the subtle insinuation that the story is to be continued in our imagination, but taking into account several clues from the last chapter: "Time may be what prevents everything from happening at the same time in waking reality, but the rules are different in dreams." In dreams everything is possible, characters from different moments of our lives gather to recreate parallel realities, to embody different personalities. Dreams play with reality like kids with plasticine and create alternative meanings which having been auditioned by the present or the past, had been rejected in order to give way to other story-threads (the actual reality). The energy generated by our dreams constitute the nourishment of the witches who are still among us, but because our "world is lit by television, threaded by satellites, cemented by science" admitting their existence seems far-fetched for "the nowadays us". "Dreams are shores where the ocean of spirit meets the land of matter. Beaches where the yet-to-be, the once-were, the will-never-be may walk amid the still-are."

The alternance between dreams and reality is fascinating in this story and the main character ends up wondering if he is a dream of the real Eiji Miyake and when he goes to sleep and dreams, the real Eiji Miyake wakes up and remembers his waking life as a dream. Mitchell succeeds in writing a great final chapter for a book which at some points seems unfocused, with details that could be easily skipped without altering the story.

It's obvious all the way through the book that he is a great fan of Murakami's: not only does he say that the main character, Eiji, is reading "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle", but he seems to even adopt Murakami's style and adapt it to his own way of creating literature. Moreover, Eiji is alike in many ways with Kafka Tamura from "Kafka on the Shore" by Murakami, and all the other characters seem to borrow something from the oddity and charm of Murakami's characters. Maybe it is just my impression, but the author himself declares openly to hold Murakami as a great source of inspiration.

Although I kept wondering while reading this book whether I was really enjoying it or not, the ending somehow brought all the loose ends together and I ended up thinking that it was really worth reading it. Moreover, although the story might not seem very catchy: a young boy starts a quest for his father whom he has never met, Mitchell's very plastic phrases and original use of words, his very creative, unique way of expressing his ideas and his humor create a special reading rhythm which is very entertaining. Therefore, although it seems a light read at a superficial level, once the hidden meanings and metaphors begin to unravel, they just pop out in your head continuously...like a bag of popcorn in the oven which seems unable to ever stop.
Profile Image for Marianne.
3,393 reviews142 followers
December 6, 2015
“Dreams are shores where the ocean of spirit meets the land of matter. Beaches where the yet-to-be, the once-were, the will-never-be may walk amid the still-are”

number9dream is the second novel by British author, David Mitchell. Nineteen-year-old Eiji Miyake arrives in Tokyo looking for his father, a man he has never met, a man whose name he does not even know. He has a letter from a lawyer warning him not to try to find his father, so his first move is to stake out the lawyer’s office from a café opposite, the Jupiter Café, where works a girl with the most beautiful neck in the world.

So begins another foray into the world of David Mitchell, one that takes the reader on an interesting (and occasionally, slightly bizarre) journey. As Eiji moves from the café to the Lost Property Office of Ueno station to a game parlour to an unfinished development on reclaimed land to a safe house to a video shop to a pizza shop to a mountain retreat, he also moves in and out of danger and encounters quite a cast of (often quirky) individuals. Claude Debussy and John Lennon play significant roles, as do the Yakuza organised crime syndicate, an overabundance of cigarettes, some seriously weird pizza recipes, a cat, an absent mother and a dead twin sister.

Mitchell manages to seamlessly include the journal of a WW2 Kaiten pilot, scenes from a surreal black and white movie, a fantastic tale starring a stuttering goatwriter, a hen and a Pithecanthropus, an account of sex slavery and organ theft, and, of course, quite a few dreams. The number nine and its elements, unsurprisingly, feature heavily but in quite a subtle way. As with all of Mitchell’s novels, there are characters who appear in earlier and later books.

Mitchell’s characters, for all their oddities, are appealing; their dialogue and Eiji’s inner monologue provide plenty of humour; and they manage to express some insightful observations: “Weird. All these people like my mother paying counsellors and clinics to reattach them to reality; all these people like me paying Sony and Sega to reattach us to unreality” and “Maybe the truest difference between people is exactly this: how they see why they are here” also “Maybe the meaning of life lies in looking for it”.

The (perhaps) abrupt ending that leaves things very much “up in the air” may not be to every reader’s taste, but the characters, plot and prose more than compensate, especially the delightful feast of rhyme, alliteration and incredibly clever wordplay of the goatwriter piece. An excellent read.
Profile Image for JSou.
136 reviews213 followers
April 30, 2010

-It is by David Mitchell
-It made me want to go have sushi & sake bombs
-It was surprisingly funny
-Not only did it remind me of Murakami, it referenced The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
-It had the word "knickerbockers"

I was rating this in my head as I went along (something I can't help but do since joining goodreads), and for the first part, I was liking it and thinking 3 stars. Once I hit the halfway point, the Mitchell I know and love emerged, bumping it up to a four. By the end of the novel, there were some solid 5 star passages.

Set in Tokyo, Eijii Miyake is on a quest to find the father he's never met. His character is slowly revealed not just by his actions, but also through his various dreams. Usually, my eyes start to glaze over when reading about dreams (or song lyrics), but in this, it worked.

"How do you smuggle daydreams into reality?"

Mitchell was able to do this brilliantly, showing that reality is constantly different than what we have going on in our innermost thoughts. Throughout life, there's times when it's disappointing, and other times it turns out better than you could have possibly imagined.

Profile Image for Matt Quann.
628 reviews383 followers
October 27, 2016
Well, I suppose all of Mitchell's novels can't be absolute home runs! Reminiscent in many ways of a Haruki Murakami novel, "number9dream"'s propensity to shift between the real and the imagined burdens the novel with a frustrating format despite the compelling story that lies at the novel's core. Set in Japan, where Mitchell spent eight years of his life, "number9dream" follows Eiji Miyake as he goes on a quest to find his estranged biological father he has never met. The novel is divided into 9 chapters, each with a different companion story that accompanies and reflects Miyake's journey through modern Tokyo. The opening chapter itself is frustrating in that the repeated, albeit altered, fantastical situations dreamed up by Miyake are never revealed as fantasy; it is up to the reader to discover the imagined nature of the proceedings for themselves. Despite this extremely confusing and willfully obtuse opening, Eiji Miyake's character is quite likeable and his journey for discovery is thoroughly interesting. Miyake's blunders through minimum wage jobs, finds himself in the middle of a Yakuza feud, slowly falls in love, all the while maintaining his unique perspective and disposition.
Another aspect of the book that is immensely enjoyable is the depiction of Japan. I have previously enjoyed Mitchell's superb "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet" for its portrayal of the port city of Dejima in the year 1799 and the appreciation and understanding that he brought to Japanese culture. Proving he has a keen eye for the culture in multiple eras, "number9dream"'s modern Japan is wholly realized and believable despite the fantastical and psychedelic sections that permeate most of the book. As an addendum to my aforementioned complaint, not all of the sections are frustrating and some of them do end up being quite enjoyable. In particular, the "Kai Ten" section was easily my favourite as it brought Miyake's quest to a more fulfilling conclusion than his previously intended goal. As for to whom I would recommend the novel, it's a tough one. Fans of Mitchell's more recent output may be frustrated with the book, but I think that Murakami fans may find a lot to like. Experimental in an entirely different way from his other novels, "number9dream" just failed to resonate with me to the same degree as Mitchell's other novels.
Profile Image for Liz S..
44 reviews25 followers
October 16, 2007
I probably shouldn't be giving this any stars because I didn't even finish it. This was a book club read and none of us got through it, not even the most die-hard David Mitchell fans. I guess this is proof positive that a knack for writing will not save your book if you have nothing particular to say. As one person in our group described it, reading this book is like watching a musician play his scales very, very well---but after a while, you just want to hear him play an actual song for a sustained period of time. Perhaps I'll have better luck reading Cloud Atlas or Black Swan Green.
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,688 followers
July 24, 2015
I gave number9dream five stars way back when I first started rating books around here, but it was far enough removed from reading the book that I didn't feel I could write a review, so there is no chronicle of why I gave it five stars.

Since then I have read most of David Mitchell's stuff, but number9dream was my first, so it retains pride of place. I was turned onto it the winter I went home to Canada for Christmas because for some reason that year I decided I was going to read everything shortlisted for the Booker Prize (I did and they were all excellent reads: Oxygen, Hotel World, The Dark Room, Atonement and the winner (don't ask me how) The True History of the Kelly Gang). I knew Ian McEwan and Peter Carey, but I came to the other four authors for the first time.

number9dream was the first of the six books I read, and by the time the prize was awarded it was still my favourite.

Fourteen years later and I just spent a week and a bit dragging it around from beach to beach, rediscovering the rhythms of David Mitchell's writing -- reminding myself why I love him so much.

I don't think I would give number9dream five stars anymore, but I would still give it a strong four (I'm leaving my original stars up regardless), and I don't think my slight distance from loving this book is all that much of a drop off. In many ways the story of Eiji Miyake is irrelevant when it comes to my final feelings about this book because it wasn't so much the story that made me love number9dream as the storytelling, and no matter the characters no matter the plot, if David Mitchell is telling the story, I am going to set the book down with a mixture of sadness and joy. Sadness that the storytelling is over; joy that I had the privilege to listen to his voice for a little while.

But since this is a pseudo-review, here's the one specific thing I will say about number9dream. BEST ENDING EVER (or, at least, one of my top 5).
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