One of my weight saving travel tips for book lovers is a kindle. I think my first trip to India led to me carrying around 15 kilos of books, mostly everything Kerouac & Steinbeck have ever written, which was heavy. This time I had a kindle so around six months before I left I started building my collection and practicing. Seriously I had to practice and teach myself that there’s another way to reading other than feeling the sweet scented pages of battered paperbacks…. So I’ll never be a convert and there is still nothing better than a book but the kindle is saving my soul with brilliant literature.
First up and helping making sense of the title is ‘The Guest Cat’ by Takashi Hiraide. I’ve been meaning to read it for months, the cat face on the cover has been appearing all over my amazon homepage and seemingly been propped up on every waterstones counter in London, and having now read it I can say it deserved a waterstones window spot. Beautifully written the plot centres on a couple, their relationship and a visiting cat. A lot of the narrative focuses on the every day and on the way things are written. It’s not a book for plot but for simple writing, simple subjects and general simplicity. The fact Hiraide is both Japanese and a poet is evident and crucial to its success. Part of its exquisite nature, for me, is undeniably both the portrayal of Shibuya life. Whilst I started reading it whilst on Mysore, I finished it in FK, where I just happened to be staying in a house on the corner or a bend, down a path with many wandering cats.
After getting re-hooked on Tokyo and in the back of my head thinking of ways to get back to the Far East, (Thailand now also counts but I didn’t know it then) I wanted a book with a similar connection eg some accuracy in reference to ideally Japanese living. David Mitchell seems to be mostly known for Cloud Atlas. A book I bought for its ethereal name and beautiful cover. I tried reading it so many times but by god that first chapter is painful but after I eventually for through it … Well wow. Then I read number9dream, then I saw David talk about The Bone Clocks (still haven’t read it) but I did have a copy of his first novel Ghostwritten on the kindle. Having lived in Japan and also having a Japanese wife I figured there would be enough influences in his work and I wasn’t wrong.
Ghostwritten is a masterpiece in narrative with a collection of chapters with characters that interconnect through brief passing conversations and vague interactions. Is just so good! It’s almost magical how deftly Mitchell handles the differing character so, chapters along side his poetic way with words. The title, well that is perfect again in a magical, ethereal and intelligent manner.
Back in Waterstones when he spoke about The Bone Clocks much of the assembled crowd were die hard fans who knew the intricacies and cross overs between all his characters were certain characters transcend the pages and link all of his texts. Whilst I’m not quite obsessive enough to work that one out hunting down some more David Mitchell (whilst keeping to my budget) is definitely on my agenda for 2016.