Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas Mr. Sykes told me an entire week is needed to render the statute book on the Prophetess is the Old Man's Whim.” Another statute. By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks | Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize A postmodern visionary and one of the leading. Michael Chabon “Cloud Atlas ought to make [Mitchell] famous on both sides of the The Washington Post Book World. Read full review.
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Cloud Atlas: A Novel This content was uploaded by our users and we assume good faith they have the permission to share this book. If you own the copyright. Read free book excerpt from Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, page 1 of 3. Mr. Sykes told me an entire week is needed to render the Prophet- ess "Bristol fashion. Download Cloud Atlas Full Book PDF. Cloud Atlas begins in with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in.
I am now versed enough in Antipodese etiquette to let such unlikely truths lie. Sykes told me an entire week is needed to render the Prophet- ess "Bristol fashion. I met Dr. He has lodged at the Musket since middle October after voyaging hither on a Brazilian merchantman, Namorados, from Feejee, where he practiced his arts in a mission.
Now the doctor awaits a long-overdue Australian sealer, the Nellie, to convey him to Sydney. From the colony he will seek a position aboard a passenger ship for his native London.
Excerpted from Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Reader Reviews. BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Subscribe to receive some of our best reviews, "beyond the book" articles, book club info, and giveaways by email. About this Book Summary Excerpt. Reviews Media Reviews Reader Reviews. Join Now! I found myself clinging to the first narrative as the "real" one. When it turns up as "a curious dismembered volume" in the second, damn!
I swallowed hard and justified such an appearance as quite possible. Then it is merely mentioned in a manuscript - the third novella - which is being read in the fourth. Got that? And worse: The fact is, you want each of these narratives to be the real one. They are that good. The structure weakens the reader's fantasy that this is "real". It becomes very awkward, like explaining a time travel paradox.
View all comments. Sep 11, Jenn ifer rated it it was ok Recommends it for: I know, right? How could anyone dislike The Matrix? For the first half of the novel, I kept trying to psych myself up by reminding myself how much I disliked the first four episodes of season one of The Wire: It all starts to click. I kept waiting for that BAM!
Instead I found myself more and more frustrated, finding fault with every gimmick.
Go all the way, I say! Oh what, you think that would be too annoying? Ur rite. It would b. So y chanj da spelng at al? It just ends up being distracting. A clever idea for sure. The thing about clever ideas is this, you really need to trust that your reader is as clever as you!
We can pick these things up without you telling us. I'm sure you were going for something really important and profound there, but it was completely lost on me because that 'style' you came up with was ridiculously irritating.
At least you have a sense of humor about it all, right pal? You saw the criticisms coming, and you gave them a swift kick in the ass well, your character did, literally right from the get-go. As if Art is the What, not the How!
From the Mrs. If you were experimenting with genres, take note, pulp is not your thing. Hey, they even got the same actor to star in the film! If it means anything, I thought Black Swan Green was ace in the face! On re-reading in I admit, the surpringsingly-and-terrifyingly-not-awful trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation of this book sent me plunging back into its hexapalindromic universe to re-solidify my own mental renditions of Frobisher's bicycle, Sonmi's soap packs, and Lousia's imaginary California, among other things.
I emerge even more impressed with Mitchell's mimetic acrobatics, the book's deft allusive integument "Is not ascent their sole salvation? I kept wishing Lousia or Cavendish or someone one would say "Be excellent to each other. Party on, dudes! This book grants me one of the greatest pleasures a book can: If you're not into Mitchell's prose, characters, or fancy-schmancy structure, though, you might just end up with the hackneyed bit.
The other five all deal directly with humanity's inclination toward subjugation that Dr. Goose summed up with his law, "the weak are meat the strong do eat," but the Zedelgem story is different. Robert is stealing from Ayrs in a very material way, but this theft is ancillary. His manipulation of Ayrs and the Crommelyncks, while selfish, is also not entirely one-sided. Ayrs and Frobisher are playing each other, almost equally, and not entirely for the purpose of self-aggrandizement but in the service of music, which they both seem to perceive as a force beyond their own persons.
Jocasta is similarly playing Robert for pleasure but also for her husband. I suppose these battles of wills provide the tension that keeps the story flowing, but they still seem WAY different than Maori slave-makers and brainwashed fast food servant clones, and different in kind, not just in scale.
I like the fact that it's different I think the moral refrains in the latter half might have become a bit tiresome without it , but I wonder if there's a reason for its uniqueness. Perhaps Mitchell planned to play up the manipulation aspect but couldn't bring himself to fully damn a man with a quest so similar to his own.
Actually, I have. What I meant to say is that I've read nothing so marvelously epic since then. As usual, my attempts to explain it to people have met with polite nods and changed subjects, but let me try: Each doll is a different period in time, the outermost being in the early 19th century, the latest being somewhere around I think. Four of the six are out and out genre pieces: But they are just written, so, well that they are simply irresistible.
I only wish I could find single genre novels that were as perfectly crafted as a single portion of this book. The pieces placed in the s and the present day are also wonderful, but certainly aren't the type of fare I normally seek out. But yes, exceedingly well written.
What's it about? The characters of each story find themselves reading their predecessor, and sometimes characters overlap a very, very little. Each story features a character with the same birth mark, and they all seem to experience deja vu from characters in other stories.
Now it sounds corny. But I swear to you, it is cool. I guess the book is primarily about the will to power. Slavery and subjugation, small personal cruelties, corporate greed. It's sort of like the anti-Fountainhead, except much more fun to read. I don't know.
Dissecting fiction about giant apes comes much more naturally to me. Please read this book so, at the very least, you can explain it to me. View all 38 comments. Several short stories, that on their own are relatively weak.
The author has linked them together tenuously with some mistakenly profound pseudo-religious nonsense and a tattoo. An interesting idea, let down by the poor quality of the writing. Pretentious twaddle of the highest order This book seems to be one of those hoaxes to call out hack reviewers.
I'm slightly puzzled by the fact that Mitchell hasn't come forward yet six years after publication. The whole thing is a pretentious construction of six separate stories, with the protagonists in each being incarnations of each other, and ending up in possession of the story of the previous one in some way.
The first one is the story of some American lawyer on a ship in the Pacific some time in the s. It's supposed to be a journal, but it's a hideously unconvincing one. If it wasn't intentional, I don't know why these pretentious cockpouches never seem to be able to manage a decent pastiche; it's as if actually reading anything they didn't write themselves is beneath them.
The fact that it's rife with anachronisms doesn't help. The second story takes the form of letters written by an English twat in the s, who moved to Belgium to escape debt. It's probably completely forgettable to non-Belgians, but a special kind of annoying to me. Mitchell managed to spell "Zedelgem" as "Zedelghem", which was indeed the correct spelling before the spelling reform of , but uses the modern spelling for everything else.
I don't know enough about the spelling reforms of French in the 20th century to say if he made the same mistake there, but I'm guessing he did. Somewhere along the way this English twat finds the diary of the American twat for no good narrative reason, because that's what passes for plot coherence.
The third story is an attempt at an action spy thriller type novel set in , the link with the previous one being the addressee of the letters, who passes them on to the protagonist of this one. It's as forgettable as the fourth one, which is something about some old guy who's sent the manuscript of this novel in the mail. Somewhere along the way a writer throws a reviewer off a balcony, I don't know. The fifth is where he really shines: It has everything! Corporate overlords, genetically engineered slaves, cannibalism, giant totalitarian conspiracies, cutesy spelling gimmicks and neologisms, anything you could want!
It's so horrifically transparent it makes Snow Crash look like a masterpiece. It's even set in Corea. The final one is obviously the obligatory post-apocalyptic one, where the protagonist of the last one is worshipped like a goddess. It would be merely tedious if not for the ridiculous and completely unnecessary apostrophes everywhere, which render it actively obnoxious and pretty much unreadable.
Initially, at least, because Mitchell doesn't have the attention span needed to keep it up for a whole chapter. So yes, if this isn't a deliberate hoax, it's a violently shit novel and a new low in post-modern self-indulgence. I'm not at all surprised at the reviews it's received either way.
Aug 06, Kris rated it it was amazing Shelves: All autumn, with the release date of movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas fast approaching, interest in the novel among my Goodreads friends has been high. I have not seen many subdued reactions. Detractors have dismissed Cloud Atlas as gimmicky, a work by a much-hyped writer who is showing off his style but neglecting to anchor All autumn, with the release date of movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas fast approaching, interest in the novel among my Goodreads friends has been high.
Detractors have dismissed Cloud Atlas as gimmicky, a work by a much-hyped writer who is showing off his style but neglecting to anchor it in themes of substance. And some readers simply found his shifts in voice tedious. I recently re-read Cloud Atlas s, bearing in mind both reactions to the novel. I also remembered my first time reading it.
I delighted in tracing connections and interconnections among the different sections of the novel. Mitchell structures Cloud Atlas as follows: The first five break off abruptly in the middle of their respective stories.
After its conclusion, Mitchell moves in reverse chronological order through the remaining five novellas, bringing each to a conclusion, but also providing numerous points of connection and resonance among all six novellas. The novellas are as follows: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing: The First Luisa Rey Mystery: Zachry, a Pacific Islander who is a member of the Valleymen, tells about his experiences with Meronym, a Prescient, as they seek past knowledge and combat the savagery of the Kona and devastation by plague in the future.
With my second reading of the novel, I delved deeper than focusing on its structure. I focused on themes. Did Mitchell have the content to support his style and technique, or was Cloud Atlas all style and no substance? Knowledge in Cloud Atlas: He researched them and visited the Chatham Islands as well. The Moriori appear in Cloud Atlas , as Ewing meets them and attempts to come to terms with the many forces that overpower them: Western missionaries in search of souls, whalers in search of profit, and Maori exercising their power over the Moriori through force.
How are we shaped, not only by what we remember from the past, but also by what we forget or rework? Why is it so important for us to be able to tell stories about the past, and to know the conclusion of those stories? Moriori people, Spirit Grove- Hapupu, Chatham Islands As a novelist, Mitchell explores these questions while also paying homage to different genres of writing, and in some cases specific books that were particularly inspiring to him.
See the Washington Post interview linked above for a list of these influences. However, these voices are not simply an opportunity for him to demonstrate his ability to shapeshift as a writer.
A quotation from this interview gave me insights into the significance of the different voices that he adopts in Cloud Atlas: Every word holds a tiny infinity of nuances, a genealogy, a social set of possible users, and that although a writer must sometimes pretend to use language lightly, he should never actually do so -- the stuff is near sacred. In doing so, he considers the knowledge these cultures retained and the knowledge they lost from the past.
I felt like an ethnographer, listening carefully to stories told by an informant from a very different world, and finding clues to recreate that world. That quest to understand, and the impact of discovering points I had in common with Zachry, speak to a larger theme -- continuity in some aspects of human culture over time, and the necessity of preserving and understanding the past as much as possible, even as it recedes from us in time.
We think of an atlas as a book that guides us through unfamiliar terrain and captures the contours of mountains and valleys, the depths of seas and lakes. An atlas of clouds suggests something much more ephemeral -- clouds are constantly moving, shifting, transforming, and eventually dissipating into the ether.
Even as we try to capture the past in works of history, literature, and art, we change and transform its meaning to fit our present. In the Luisa Rey story, the engineer Isaac Sachs outlines this view of history as he takes notes during a plane ride:. He who pays the historian calls the tune. This virtual future may influence the actual future, as in a self fulfilling prophecy, but the actual future will eclipse our virtual one as surely as tomorrow eclipses today.
Throughout Cloud Atlas , Mitchell develops this depiction of the interplay of the actual and virtual past and the actual and virtual future in shaping the present. In doing so, he leaves the door open for societies to shape their actual futures through this process of creation and reinterpretation.
However, one important limitation on their ability to do so for the better is the ubiquitous influence of power dynamics across human societies, past, present, and future. He takes a broad approach to exploring this force, as explained in his Washington Post interview: This needn't be as bleak as it sounds -- a consequence of getting can be giving, which presumably is what love is about. Once I had these two ideas for novellas, I looked for other variations on the theme of predatory behavior -- in the political, economic and personal arenas.
Anthropologists such as Marcel Mauss in The Gift have explored the role of gift exchange in fostering relationships, and in determining power dynamics, in human societies. Historians have looked at these elements from a broader perspective, particularly in studies of colonialism in the early modern and modern world.
Investigative reporters uncover instances of the abuse of power, as measured by wealth and influence. Wherever we turn, our past and present are shaped by power relations and the desire to possess -- wealth, political influence, land, beautiful objects, and people.
What does this mean for our future? In Cloud Atlas , Mitchell explores power in many manifestations. Peace, though beloved of our Lord, is a cardinal virtue only if your neighbors share your conscience.
As Ayrs tells him in a final confrontation: The will to power, the backbone of human nature. The threat of violence, the fear of violence, or actual violence is the instrument of this dreadful will. You can see the will to power in bedrooms, kitchens, factories, unions, and the borders of states. Listen to this and remember it. The nation-state is merely human nature inflated to monstrous proportions.
QED, nations are entities whose laws are written by violence. Thus it ever was, so ever shall it be Rights are susceptible to subversion, as even granite is susceptible to erosion. In corpocracy, this means the Juche. What is willed by the Juche is the tidy xtermination of a fabricant underclass. Meronym provides a cautionary perspective on the future that may await us in our zeal to acquire power in all its forms: The Prescient answered, Old Uns tripped their own Fall.
More what? Oh, more gear, more food, faster speeds, longer lifes, easier lifes, more power, yay. Luisa Rey presents another form of power: However, what happens when the media is co-opted by the same corporate powers which it should be scrutinizing?: The corporations have money, power, and influence.
Our sole weapon is public outrage. Outrage blocked the Yuccan Dam, ousted Nixon, and in part, terminated the monstrosities in Vietnam.
But outrage is unwieldy to manufacture and handle. First, you need scrutiny; second, widespread awareness; only when this reaches a critical mass does public outrage explode into being. Any stage may be sabotaged. The media—and not just The Washington Post —is where democracies conduct their civil wars. After considering the kaleidoscope of human power and greed in Cloud Atlas , are we left with any hope for the future, or is Mitchell leaving us with a pessimistic prognosis?
Cloud Atlas provides a staggering exploration of different manifestations of power and greed over centuries of human history: In spite of these dark depictions of the negative influence of the human quest for power, Mitchell does provide some hope that individuals can and do make a difference. Luisa Rey and her allies uncover the publicize the deception and danger of Seaboard Power Inc..
Zachry and Meronym band together and manage to survive plague and attacks from the Kona. Sonmi sacrifices herself for the good of the fabricants, and lives on in the religious practices of the Old Uns and the studies of the Prescients. Fittingly, Mitchell gives Adam Ewing the last word, as he reflects on his experiences after his rescue from poisoning and drowning: I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. A life spent shaping a world I want Jackson to inherit, not one I fear Jackson shall inherit, this strikes me as a life worth the living.
Just as Mitchell channels his concerns about his son's future through Ewing's words, so does he provide us with a clear sense of how critical our individual choices are in shaping our own children's future.
Individuals are not swept aside by the forces of history--one by one, we make up these forces. The actual future of our species and our planet is in our hands. Will we act for a just world, or sit back and contribute to the demise of our planet through inaction, or greed, or cowardice? These pivotal questions, and this critical choice, give Cloud Atlas its power. Jan 17, karen rated it really liked it Shelves: Apr 19, Jason rated it it was amazing Shelves: At the Museum of Science in Boston, there is an exhibit just outside the doors of the Planetarium that demonstrates—through a series of adjacent panels—the scale of the Earth in relation to the universe at large.
Reading Cloud Atlas is like zooming out from a point on the Earth to the edge of the universe and then back in again, as represented by those aforementioned panels. Do we need a visual aid? This novel, of course, has little to do with the cosmos, but the analogy is fitting for describing the vastness of its scope. The novel then goes even further into the future, so far in fact that it becomes indistinguishable from the past, and like the reverse zoom in the video above, the novel collapses back in on itself, ending exactly where it began.
Throughout history, humans have enslaved each other on the basis of skin color and racial background, religious beliefs and cultural or ethnic differences. The weak have been enslaved to the strong, the old to the young, and the poor to the well-to-do. This novel goes a step further by exploring the concept of knowledge and how it relates to the socioeconomic hierarchy of the future.
Knowledge is all that separates us from savagery, and yet it is our most transient asset. I am probably making this book sound like a course in sociology, though it is anything but. Cloud Atlas is a brilliantly constructed novel delineating the cyclicality of human civilization and it is written by someone who has immediately become one of my favorite authors. Unable to choose among the various genres of fiction available, he ends up Cloud Atlas is historical fiction, it is a dark comedy, it is a crime thriller, it is science fiction, it is a post-apocalyptic dystopia.
The middle chapter, while the most difficult to read, is easily my favorite. However, this quest is a double-edged sword that becomes its own downfall, since domination is a self-defeating goal, and it is this downfall that ultimately causes civilization to collapse. But despite its bleak forecasts, Cloud Atlas inspires a glimmer of hope for our future, for as insignificant as one person may be, as much as one fathoms his life to have no impact greater than that of a single drop in a limitless ocean, the question is posed: Sep 05, Nataliya rated it really liked it Recommended to Nataliya by: I was a third into this book and I could not care less about it.
It didn't seem we were meant to be. Then suddenly my heart was aching for the characters and their stories, and it did catch me by surprise. And now it's been a week since I finished it, and I still find myself thinking about it.
You've wormed your way into my heart and I'd better make my peace with it. Why did I resist liking it so much?
Why did this book and I have such a rocky sta I was a third into this book and I could not care less about it. Why did this book and I have such a rocky start to our relationship? Sheesh, let me think about it as I lie here on the imaginary psychiatrist's couch in Freudian times. You see, its 'revolutionary structure' and all - it is basically six stories, five of which are arranged like concentric rings around one central uninterrupted story, slowly moving from A to Z as the stories go along from Adam to Zachry , - leads even the author to question, "Revolutionary or gimmicky?
Jarring, unnecessary, trying too hard and yet being needlessly distracting. Hey, you can also compare this book to the rings a raindrop makes in still waters. See, I can be allegorically poetic when need arises. Would I have been easier for me to love it had it come simply as a collection of six stories related by the larger overarching theme? But we cannot always chose what the things we love look like, can we? Sometimes they just have to have that incredibly annoying anvil-heavy comet-shaped birthmark, and I have to make my peace with it.
They are never properly extinguished. What sparks wars? Thus it ever was, so ever shall it be. War, Robert, is one of humanity's two eternal companions. About the never-ending power struggle that seems to be inherent to humanity, that drives it forward - until one day it perhaps drives it to the brink of demise.
It's about the amazing resilience of humanity that bends but never breaks under the never-ending forward march of the power struggle. It is about our seemingly inevitable separation into the opposing camps - the oppressors and the oppressed, the powerful and the powerless, the haves and the have-nots, justifying those sometimes murky and sometimes crisp division lines with the arbitrary but hard-to-overturn notions of superiority and entitlement.
It is also about the never-ending human struggle against such division, in one form or another. Maoris prey on Moriori, Whites prey on darker-hued cousins, fleas prey on mice, cats prey on rats, Christians on infidels, first mates on cabin boys, Death on the Living. The weak are meat, the strong do eat. See how smart I am?
Can I please have a cookie now? The revelations at which both Adam and Zachry arrive are simple and perhaps overly moralistic, but still relevant and humane. And despite the moralistic heavy-handedness, I loved them. Because of this: Yes, the Devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction. I hate to say it, but Robert Frobisher's story the composer of the titular Cloud Atlas musical piece left me cold.
Luisa Rey's pulpy cheap prose held my attention only for the first half of the story and Timothy Cavendish's flowery adventure - only for the second. Sonmi for the first half of the story was delightfully reminding me of The Windup Girl that I loved, and fell flat in the rushed second part.
It almost felt that some of these stories were too large for the limited amount of space Mitchell could give them, and they would have been benefited from expansion. But the Sloosha Crossing story - Zachry's tale - won me over completely, once I got over the migraine induced by overabundance of apostrophes in this futuristic simplistic dialect. S'r's'l'y', Mr. Mitchell, there had to have been some perhaps less 'authentic' but also less headache-causing way to tell this story.
But I got over the initial defensive response and allowed myself to enjoy this scary postapocalyptic setting which in so many ways reminded me of The Slynx by Tatiana Tolstaya.
There is just something that I love about the postapocalyptic primitive society setup, something that speaks to me while terrifying me to death at the same time, and this story had plenty of that. And now, apparently, there will be a movie, which explains why everyone and their grandma is reading this book now, getting me on the bandwagon as well.
The movie, that from the trailer seems to be focusing on the part that made me eye-roll just like it made Mr.
Cavendish, editing Luisa Rey manuscript! I thought the hints at it were unnecessary dramatic; to me enough of a connection came from all of the characters belonging to our troubled and yet resilient human race.
But to each their own. And maybe someday in the future I will reread it being prepared for the gimmicky structure, and I will not let it annoy me, and I will maybe give it five stars. I would love that! View all 84 comments. May 08, Fabian rated it it was amazing Shelves: One of the most outstanding, hugely epic sagas ever. There seem to be six distinct writers in "Cloud Atlas"--distinct, original tableaux: Mitchell is authentic in every story. These really are "found objects" placed in blatant, cunning contrast with each other.
But that they were all borne from one fountainhead--from one single and chameleonic probably the most chameleonic I have encountered since Peruvian Mario Vargas Llo One of the most outstanding, hugely epic sagas ever.
But that they were all borne from one fountainhead--from one single and chameleonic probably the most chameleonic I have encountered since Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa's mind--this is the reason the novel is now a classic.
The movie is a very adequate companion piece, as the myriad loose ends are genuinely brought forth and rendered poetic. View all 18 comments. Dec 05, Lyn rated it it was amazing. I mean he'd have to be ten times more charmin' than that Arnold on Green Acres, you know what I'm sayin'?
Awright, check this out; I just finished reading this book called Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas? Go on. Serving up a Royale wit cheese! OK, ok, wait. But … that may be something upon which I can ponder as I walk the earth. Right, but then, see, he goes back and finishes all six stories, going back from future Hawaii, to the Chinese girl — Jules: Thought you said she was Korean?
Whatever, then to the old guy, then the girl in California in the 70s to the English musician and then back to the dude in the s. Alright, I can see that. That is pretty cool, kinda familiar too. Right, right, and by doing so the writer creates a dramatic tension between each segment, adding depth and interest to an already cool story.
Honey Bunny: View all 37 comments. Sep 24, s. Here you will encounter six stories, linked across time, that, like individual notes of a chord, each resonate together to form a greater message than just the sum of their parts.
He protested, saying that you can only have one or the other. I agreed with him that this is typically the case, yet I insisted that Cloud Atlas was the exception to this rule. While each individual story has an exciting plot full of unexpected twists, often incorporating a Hollywood action or sci-fi style, Mitchell manages to elevate the novel into a higher realm of literature. Mitchell, who studied English at the University of Kent, receiving a master in Comparative Literature thanks wiki!
There is also a sense of an evolution of language, showing past trends progressing into our current speech, and then passing forward where corporate name brands will become the identifier of an object all cars are called fords, handheld computers are all called sonys, all movies are called disneys , and then even further forward as language begins to disintegrate. The themes of the novel also seem to move in a cyclical pattern, showing repeating itself.
As stated earlier, Mitchell was inspired by Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler in which the Reader is exposed to several different novels within the novel, each with a very distinct voice and style, only to be forever thwarted from finishing just as the action rises. Mitchell takes this idea and expands upon it, with each story ending abruptly yet still resonating in the following story, which then leads us to the next and the next until finally we reach the midpoint of the novel.
I do not want to spoil too much of this novel, especially his way of each story being a part of the next, but by page 64 you will understand. There will be a paragraph that will drop your jaw and melt your mind as you realize Mitchell has something special here in his method of telescoping stories. Essentially, each major character leaves an account of a crucial storyline of their lives, which in turn is read or viewed later through history by another character during a crucial moment in their lives.
An added flair is that many of the characters relate to their current events by comparing it to characters or ideas from previous stories, one character even becoming a deity figure to future generations. There is a good interview with Mitchell in the Washington Post where he explains his methods.
Mitchell employs other metafictional techniques, such as having his characters each reflect on the style of the novel as would make sense for their unique world.
In the first set, each solo is interrupted by its successor: Revolutionary or gimmicky? Mitchell himself calls the style to the table, asking the reader if it is really a revolutionary idea, or if it falls flat as a gimmick. There are many instances where Mitchell inserts a bemused reflection on his own work, wondering if he is actually pulling off the magic trick.
Each story visited is as if cracking open the cover of a different book by a different author each time the switch occurs. Mitchell does his homework and spent plenty of time researching each story to make sure the history, setting and language would all be realistic. As all but the spy-thriller story of Luisa Rey are told in first person, Mitchell has his work cut out for him to craft a unique voice for each narrator.
And he pulls it off brilliantly. This attention to detail and nuance is what really sold me on Cloud Atlas. Mitchell toys with his knowledge of literature, molding each story from the recipes of classic literature.
There are even small events that trigger a memory of classic works; Frobisher is passenger in a car that runs down a pheasant which is described in a way that would remind one of a certain accident involving a yellow car at the tail end of a Fitzgerald novel. He even takes a jab at Ayn Rand in the Luisa Rey story. Mitchell seems to intentionally build this novel from other novels, and highlights this to the reader most openly through Timothy Cavendish and Robert Frobisher.
This honing of metafictional abilities is one of his greatest strengths and the second half of the novel is full of passages that speak on many different levels. He uses this as opportunities to shamelessly quote, allude, and incorporate the ideas of other writers.
While allusions are used for thematic reasons, some are more deeply hidden, sometimes in plain sights as Nabokov titles are used frequently, and occasionally he simply alludes to authors of each stories present time Luisa Rey's boss was mugged after having lunch with Norman Mailer to make them feel more rooted to the literary culture of the time much as he does with the language and descriptions.
He even pokes fun at the reader a bit, acknowledging that the casual reader will not be able to pick up on these allusions, speaking through Cavendish: Mitchell appreciates and rewards the well-read reader with many of these subtle ironic jokes which are sprinkled all through-out the novel. He leaves so many little gems for a reader to find if they only take the time to read in between the lines and pay close attention. Bill Smoke pure evil and Joe Napier an ally seem to pop up in some form in every story.
I have noticed at least four other souls that seem to migrate through time in this novel. Like a healthy, well-balanced sense of self, Mitchell seems to be aware of his weaknesses as a writer and actually uses them to his advantage, making his weaknesses some of his biggest strengths.
It is clear, as the point has by now been driven into the ground, that Mitchell has aims to be taken seriously as a writer of literature, but his plots are such rapid-fire excitement with twists and turns and high climactic conclusions that he felt it necessary to be as literary as possible in all other aspects. He compensates for any other shortcomings in a similar fashion. One of the ways the characters are linked together across time read it yourself if you want to know!
I got a kick out of this and instantly forgave Mitchell for not being subtle enough with this technique of linking characters. There are several other moments when characters question the validity of other characters, often due to the same reasons a reader would criticize Mitchell.
This ability to poke fun at himself and openly address his own shortcomings gave me a far greater respect for him. He accepts that his ideas are not entirely original and counters anyone who might complain it has all been done before.
It made me laugh. With all his cleverness and metafictional genius, Mitchell does have a few flaws that should be addressed. The main one being subtlety. Apple Audible downpour eMusic audiobooks. Also by David Mitchell. See all books by David Mitchell.
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