Stories come in every shape and size, and Train Man (2007) written by an author who wittily hides himself under the name “Hitori Nakano (Jap term for online forum writers)” proves that the possibilities for story-telling are endless.
Train Man uses an online forum format throughout the entire book. It lists a thread that goes on for 57 days (March 14 to May 16), detailing the joys and woes of user Train Man as he seeks advice from fellow geeks online on pursuing a girl.
It’s wasteful to talk about Train Man’s plot and characters–just the everyday aimless geek falls in love with the perfect girl scenario. In a surprise feat of courage, Train Man rescues the beautiful Miss Lady Hermes from a drunk. After receiving an expensive pair of Hermes teacups (see where the code name comes from?), Train Man feels a soft push to pursue a relationship deeper than hero-victim. But how to go about is much more difficult than learning the names of every Ewok. Train Man resorts to his only outlet, the internet where single geeks like him roam about.
One ignorant geek seeking love could lead to trouble but Train Man proves that clueless geeks multiplied by a hundred, plus years of longing, plus the wisdom of internet research can deliver valuable advice. Train Man’s geeky friends followed him through the insecurities, questions of self-worth, and giddy moments of uncertainty.
It’s impossible to tell how many users actually replied to the thread, all of them only labeled by their thread number. There’s no real dialogue, only Train Man’s anecdotes and recollections as he updates his expectant cyberpublic. Several dates and (“,)s later,Train Man evolves physically and socially and his online friends can now only hope to live vicariously through him.
Train Man is a fast read. Almost as fast as the web. Many pages were dedicated to large graphics commonly seen in forums and comments from his loyal followers. Train Man usually leaves the forum after a few questions and a short update. It feels long and dragging at first, especially since Train Man needs more than “a lot” of encouragement to make his every move. But as soon as he got his groove on, it’s impossible not to empathize with him and cheer him on. Eventually the anonymous comments would feel needless and in the way and the book that took pains too read would feel too short. Apparently skipping is not cheating and is very essential in this novel.
It’s not going to be included in the 10 greatest books of all time, but Train Man did become a bestseller. It’s probably that formula of ease, relaxation, and feel good. It never fails.
Disclaimer: 1. This is the first time I’m writing a book review. We were unable to do that in my WAC class. 2. It’s a little late since this was released in 2007 but since I was barely able to read anything during my four college years, it’s always better late than never.