Thursday, August 9, 2007

David Mitchell

I'm reading David Mitchell's Number9Dream now, the last of Mitchell's books for me. I read Cloud Atlas a year and a half ago, Ghostwritten last summer, and Black Swan Green during this year's AP exams, when I should have been writing content for an online film study course.

They're all great, all completely worth reading -- even Number9Dream, which is, 75 pages in, definitely my least favorite so far.

They're gimmicky, I guess, and I suppose a pretentious grad student could accuse them of being too circular, too neat, but I like them. A lot.

Cloud Atlas is a series of long stories, moving from the 19th century, to the distant future, and back again, each story written in a dramatically different, but perfectly realized, style, from Melville to Isherwood/Waugh to airport thriller-ish.

Ghostwritten is, sort of like Cloud Atlas, a series of connected stories, again moving freely through time and geography, but this time written in a mostly similar style.

Black Swan Green is a coming-of-age novel disguised as a series of 13 short stories, each one taking a month in the year of a young British adolescent. It's first-person, and the narrator is, like most adolescent first-person narrators, a little too precocious, occasionally, for his own good, but it's always believable in this book as his intelligence is balanced with his pretentiousness (he's a poet who uses the penname Eliot Bolivar) and his insecurity. He keeps his poetry hidden, of course, and worries that if his secret were discovered, "I'd get BUMHOLE PLUMMER scrawled on my locker." And he claims that Neil Young sings like a barn collapsing. And how can you not like that?

So, read Cloud Atlas. And Black Swan Green.

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