By Hitori Nakano
Del Rey Books
Before there was Facebook, there were chat rooms. Before chat rooms, there were bulletin boards. And in “Train Man”, by Hitori Nakano, a love story unfolds before the reader's eyes on the pages of an innocent bulletin board “thread”.
Tren, a self-professed computer geek, has found himself in a quandary. Riding on the train to work one day, he witnesses a group of women being accosted by a drunken geezer. Tren does something completely out of character for himself; he comes to the rescue and saves the women from what he presumes is an assault waiting to happen. But when one of the women (a young, attractive one at that), sends a thank you gift to Tren, he hardly knows how to react. So he turns to his virtual “friends” on the bulletin board and asks for their help.
This entire book is written as a routine bulletin board “thread”; each post dated and timed from each individual user. Tren takes the advice of the other computer geeks on the thread and calls the girl to thank her for the thank you gift. The relationship progresses from there with the computer geeks giving Tren (a very inexperienced young geek) advice at every turn. What unfolds is a beautiful love story filled with sophistication from the young woman, and innocence and geeky-ness (two of my favorite male qualities! ;-) from the young man.
The writing style of the bulletin board was very clever, I thought. The book was originally written in Japanese and translated into English two years later. A fun book and a quick read.