Monday, March 21, 2005

I loved Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I have been telling everyone about this book and urging them to read it. And that was even before I'd gotten halfway through. It begins with the journal entries of a man traveling from Hawaii to San Francisco in 1850 or so, but soon jumps abruptly to letters written by a composer in Belgium in 1931 before jumping again and again, each time moving forward in time and each written in a vastly different style. We move forward through the past into the present and then to the near future and then even further, at which point the book begins backing out, picking up the narratives in turn and resolving them. Each storyline references the one before and continues the themes of power and control in civilization, making a larger statement about society and our need for domination and how that need might be our ultimate undoing. This book was really fantastic. I loved the way it played with structure and how easily and naturally Mitchell switched gears, making each narrative more compelling than the last. There was suspense and humor, philosophy and action, and it raised some provocative questions that I'm still digesting.

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