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Journal of No. 118


February 21st, 2012

Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell @ 02:04 pm

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Cloud Atlas takes six lightly linked short stories, and folds them up into a nested sandwich. Each time you jump into the next layer story, you jump forward in time some decades. In all, the book spans from the 19th century into the indefinite post-Whoops period. Each story is well-written, and each has its own tone, and even mode of story-telling (epistolary, interrogation, diary, etc). In that way, it's somewhat reminiscent of Hyperion.
Overall, there are only tenuous connections between the stories, so it's hard to evaluate it as a novel. Oh sure, there is the telltale birthmark (I half-typed bookmark) that lets you identify certain souls. And certain themes reappear, mainly about human beings being schmucks to each other. Another theme or element I noticed was that each story involves a stolen book, or stolen papers, or (for the future) unauthorized data access.
Maybe my own genre preference is leaking out, but I found the speculative stories to be quite excellent, with well-realized future worlds. But all of the stories have their good points, even if I don't see them adding that much to each other, or the interleaving to add very much to the whole. But that one theme is well worth repeating, so I will.

Don't be schmucks to each other.
 
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From:ladyeuthanasia
Date:February 21st, 2012 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Everyone tries to do Yukio Mishima. But really, no one can do The Sea of Fertility. Ever read it? That's what this sounds like, but with more and shorter stories. Mishima fucks you up in the end, though, which I love. I think I sat and stared at the floor for a couple of hours after finishing that book. Literary trauma. Yay! :)
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From:essentialsaltes
Date:February 21st, 2012 10:31 pm (UTC)
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I haven't read it; I know more about Mishima's life (and death) than his actual work. But if you give it the thumbs up (with side order of trauma), I may look into it.
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From:ladyeuthanasia
Date:February 21st, 2012 10:35 pm (UTC)
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It's long and deals with reincarnation in four "books." I don't know if you'll like it, but read the first "book" (Spring Snow) and see if you like it.
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From:hagdirt
Date:February 21st, 2012 11:42 pm (UTC)
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I read Cloud Atlas just about exactly a year ago, while we were in the Dominican Republic. Very appropriate setting, I have to say. I'm thinking I'll have to give it another read sometime soon.

Journal of No. 118