Cloud Atlas: better late than never
Finished it today. Humbled and thrilled by Mitchell's precocious virtuosity. He has cleared a new section in the forest, it seems to me. We all owe him a beer. The matryoshka structure, the planning, the meticulous interthreading that he manages to convincingly deploy -- most impressive and thoroughly enjoyable. Kind of like Nabokov meets Anthony Burgess meets Jonathan Lethem meets etc. etc... I think the Frobisher bits were the most polished, the Ewing bits maybe my sentimental favorite, Sonmi the most exciting. But no part of it left me too dissatisfied. I will have to read it again in a few years to begin actually delineating every bit of the puzzle -- I have questions still (the tattoo? is it okay to go from ostensible reality to ostensible fiction and back and forth like that? actual cause of the Fall and its relation to concrete events in the book? How the Hawaii mission survived and why were they white? These may be or become obvious.). His overall theme of the strong overcoming the weak was resounding and powerful, more than enough engine to power the thing all the way. Thank you, Tom Hobbes, for that. As far as cons, I was left just a bit cold by the tone, maybe by the clinical precision in language that he employs throughout. The Luisa Ray bits came closest to annoying me as bad fiction, but they never made it there. Can you have heart and head both equally triumphant? He comes awfully close, but the head wins out here, I think. I felt closest to Frobisher and Ewing, like they were the most human. And Sonmi -- she also found her way into my emotions. The restraint she maintained while butting heads with the most enormous and deadly infuriating lies of power. I'm not sure it'd be possible to pull off a trick like this while also creating characters you fully fall in love with. But heck, maybe it is. If someone can come this close to marrying dazzling intellectual pleasures with heart-wrenchers and tummy-ticklers... Anyway, I found this delicious -- so thanks very much to all for the recommendation.