Sunday, 4 November 2007

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

This is a wonderful novel, made up of 6 stories, 5 of which start and then break off halfway through for the next story to start, the sixth which is told in its entirety in the middle of the book. Each story is written in an entirely different style and the whole moves from historical narrative, through contemporary to futuristic science fiction. I was very impressed by the way Mitchell handled each style so convincingly and also by how he made so many connections between the various stories to tie them into a whole. The novel deals with issues including slavery, our treatment of older people, consumerism and environmental destruction. I found the stories in the middle of the book terrifying in their depiction of environmentally degraded possible futures for the earth. At no time though does it feel like preaching, the book is readable and fun, though it can be difficult to adapt to a different style every hundred or so pages. I think some readers may be tempted to read each story in its entirety, but don't - part of the joy of the book is how things look different once you've read part of each story. It's an amazing book, read it and listen to what it's saying....

4 comments:

lettuce said...

I loved this book - and I found it so hard to get into it, I started and stopped at least 3 times. But then I spose the time was right or something - and I couldn't put it down. I really like your analysis of it.

Golebnik said...

You’re a brave woman, Crafty Green. I very seldom give up on a book halfway through, but I couldn’t get through the section in which all the ‘ex’ words have the initial ‘e’ missing. I found it xtremely uninvolving and xceedingly annoying. And that vast middle section of dystopian sludge looked even worse. I had to admit defeat, give up, and get rid of the book. And this is coming from somebody who managed to finish Ulysses and even Foucault’s Pendulum …

jem said...

I love David Mitchell. If you liked this you might try (if you havent already) his 'number9dream'. It also tries some interesting things with style.

Crafty Green Poet said...

lettuce - yes not always the easiest book in the world but well worth sticking with!

Golebnik - well I'll give Ulysees another go if you give Cloud Atlas another go!!

Jem - yes I'm looking out for his earlier books! Thanks!