There are parts of this book that totally felt like Nick has taken Ghostwritten and number9dream, put them both in a mixing bowl, threw a calico cat in and stirred them all together. Which is not a bad thing as they’re both excellent reads, and, as it turns out, so is The Cat and the City. Although, having said that, Nick does have his own writing style and the underlying theme of the story is completely different.
This is one of those reviews where i feel i can’t say as much as i’d like to say without giving away the book’s ending, which is a bit annoying, both for me and, i imagine, anyone wanting a review. So i’ll just do my best without ruining it for anyone: i’m sure if anyone wants to have it ruined by reading a more in depth review they’ll soon find one somewhere on the internet.
At first this is what appears to be a collection of short stories, however, each is interconnected by a calico cat and various characters that keep appearing around various parts of Tokyo. Slowly, over time, a back story begins to coalesce.
I wouldn’t put this down as an easy read because you do have to keep track of some of the characters who randomly appear — and their relationships — add to this that most of the characters have Japanese names and it becomes a bit of a challenge. Then there’s the Japanese terminology that is peppered throughout, for which most of us will need to stop occasionally and use “Look Up”. All in all it is quite a challenge but it is well worth the investment if you have the sort of mind that likes reading books that require you to make a bit of effort. If, however, you like your stories spoon fed to you by mother at bedtime then i would probably not bother as you’ll probably just end up getting totally lost, confused, annoyed and ultimately blame a really good book for your own failings.
One could ask why is all this chaos necessary? I would suggest that it’s meant to portray Tokyo and it’s metropolitan area of 37,468,000 people, all passing on the streets, trains, taxis, etc.; pretending to ignore each other while obviously being continually affected, being extremely polite while ultimately suffering inside, and being so distant from each other while being so very near.
Anyway, like the two David Mitchell books, mentioned above, i really enjoyed it and if you do make the effort i’m sure you will to as it’s a great story spread out all over one of the world’s greatest cities.