Number9Dream (yes, all one word) was written by David Mitchell, published in 2002, and was a finalist for the Booker Prize. Those are the dry, boring facts.

The book itself is a crazy trip into a world where the lines between reality, dream, fact, and fiction are utterly blurred. The story line is simple: young Eiji Miyake leaves his tiny island village for the first time right before his 20th birthday. He travels to Tokyo in search of the father he's never met. He meets a beautiful girl, a shady but cool character, gets himself involved in a gangland war, and learns the secrets of his family.

Reviews compared it to Dickens, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy. Truthfully, the closest I can come for a comparison is William Gibson's Idoru. Tokyo is a dreamworld, a character in itself, made of towering buildings and the "drones," faceless workers constantly shuttling to-and-fro. Pop culture references, from John Lennon's "#9 Dream", to An Officer and A Gentleman, litter the pages. The first person narration creates a subjective reality where certain things-- the #9, which seems to be cursed, for instance-- stand out starkly.

The novel is divided into eight sections-- with a blank ninth one-- and each of the sections contains Eiji's story and then some other crazy dreamworld. One contains the journal of Eiji's great-uncle, a sort-of kamikaze during World War II. Another is the story written by the sister of the mother of Eiji's landlord-- stay with me here-- for her friend's son. It stars a chicken, a goat, and a pre-human anthropoid. My favorite one was the one where Eiji meets a witch who lives off of dreams while riding on a bus. Coincidences abound and tie the story together. The ending will frustrate the reader beyond all belief (and I shall say no more).

My favorite quote, describing the movement of time while on the job: "The minutes jog up the down escalator."

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