Thursday, February 02, 2006

Cloud Atlas * David Mitchell

At once audacious, dazzling, pretentious and infuriating, Mitchell's third novel weaves history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six separate but loosely related narratives. Like Mitchell's previous works, Ghostwritten and number9dream (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize), this latest foray relies on a kaleidoscopic plot structure that showcases the author's stylistic virtuosity. Each of the narratives is set in a different time and place, each is written in a different prose style, each is broken off mid-action and brought to conclusion in the second half of the book. I thought David Mitchell was immensely precocious and talented when I read Ghostwritten, though not many of my friends were as taken with it as I was. Having just finished Cloud Atlas, I am thrilled to report that --in my opinion-- his promise has been realized . The book is more than an endlessly fascinating puzzle. Each of the six characters and stories interwoven here are riveting from literary, aesthetic and philosophical standpoints as well as being great narrative page-turners. You might think that Mitchell was six different writers - all equally brilliant. This is not quite like anything you have ever read before - a new form and vision for a new century.


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