Ever since I had the good fortune of running into David Mitchell at his book signing in London last fall, I've been on a bender. I started with Slade House (his latest, which he was publicising), then The Bone Clocks (absorbing - the book completely sucked my mind), and finally (for now), finished Number9Dream. Number9Dream won't get the glowing reviews I'd readily give for Slade House and The Bone Clocks (seriously, if you haven't read either, you are in for a treat. Start in the order I did, and I don't think you'd regret it).
I find it tricky to read a non-native writer writing in the voice of a native (something about it always rings false, or maybe puts the native reader on edge to note/find anomalies even more, or maybe I'm just a mean reader. Perhaps all of the above), and for the first 3 chapters in, I wasn't even sure I like the protagonist. The names of people were also a bit awkward (Uncle Tarmac. A man named "Yuzu", an idol with a name that's almost impossible for native Japanese people to pronounce : Zizzi), but the overcrowded sense of Tokyo seemed real to me, and it was a pleasure to go back and pretend I was in Tokyo, 15 years ago (wow, what *was* I doing then?). I'm sure it's odd for non-Japanese folks to read Japanese comics set in their version of England (some of the naming conventions there also bother me, too).
I had a huge Lennon obsession phase right around the age of the protagonist. I remember 19 being difficult. I'd sit upstairs on the part of the the roof used to hang up laundry, and open the door to let some sea breeze in (we lived 9 minutes away on foot from the Pacific), and listen to John Lennon on repeat. My "grandmother" whom we all thought were my grandfather's second wife, had passed away recently. She was getting ready to leave for a trip with him, and I heard the thud of her body hitting the tatami mat in her room, and instantly knew something was wrong. I called my mother before I even dashed out of my room. She was hospitalized for a few days, and then passed away quietly without ever regaining consciousness. My younger brother was very close to her - he was her pride and joy - and to this day, he still visits her grave regularly. I've been a horrid granddaughter. I should add gravesite visits on my next visit. Listening to Lennon's solo songs remind me of that period in my life, the suffocating salty air tangling my hair.