My Thoughts on David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
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Oh, more gear, more food, faster speeds, longer lifes, easier lifes, more power, yay. Now the Hole World is big, but it weren't big 'nuff for that hunger what made Old Uns rip out the skies an' boil up the seas an' poison soil with crazed atoms an' donkey 'bout with rotted seeds so new plagues was borned an' babbits was freak-birthed. Fin'ly, bit'ly, then quicksharp, states busted into bar'bric tribes an' the Civ'lize Days ended, 'cept for a few folds'n'pokets' here'n'there, where its last embers glimmer.
It took me quite a while to read Cloud Atlas, and I almost wish that I had devoted my full attention to it, all the way through the first time. The reason I say this is, I know I will read it again. In fact, I wanted to start as soon as I finished.
There isn't really much point in trying to summarize the book. I could say that it is a set of interlocking stories, but it isn't really that. To me, it is a novel in sections. Each section is about a friendship, more or less. But it is a beautiful palimpsest, piling texts on top of texts. The book is also about all of history and the destiny of our species, if that is broad enough. It is about how we create knowledge through storytelling, and how texts pass on the past. It is about race, and the environment, and cloning, and cannibalism, amongst innumerable other things.
What I can most certainly say about David Mitchell's work is that it is a feat of technical mastery. Each of the six stories in the book is written in a distinct voice, some capturing the dialect and verbiage of a time passed, and others inventing the language of the future. Mitchell, incredibly enough, does this without being off-putting. The vocabulary in "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing" is a little fearsome at first, and "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After" was slow going, but I was always compelled by the prose. Other books that amaze me stylistically - Ulysses, Moby Dick, Tristram Shandy- aren't nearly as readable at the level of plot.
Thematically, the book can be a little clunky, the connections fun, but a little obvious. This of course, is forgiven, because the book is absolute brilliance. Highly recommended.
Title: Cloud AtlasAuthor: David Mitchell
Publisher: Random House
Where I got it: Bought It
Challenges: Chunkster Challenge