Saturday, 29 December 2007

David Mitchell "Cloud Atlas"

It is a pity I've just given 'The Observations' the Edwards Prize for the Most Original Work of Fiction, 2007. Had I not done so this would have made a worthy winner of that award. Or perhaps its just plain weird. It was written in 2004 and I am finding it very hard to describe it adequately for this blog post. One of the reviews I read depicts it as science fiction, fantasy, historical novel and thriller. To those I would add 'philosophical novel' though in fact it is a series of interlinked novellas with a common theme which might best be called "Man's inhumanity to man". It was a nominee for the Booker Prize in 2004 and won the dreaded Richard and Judy Best Read of the Year 2005!

Once started, this is a book which drives you on to the finish even when, at times, you feel as though you know what the outcome is going to be.

They key question at the end of any book is "Would I recommend someone to read it?" And this is one book where I still cannot decide what my answer would be!

DAVID MITCHELL a former bookseller who was born in 1970. He currently teaches in Hiroshima. His first novel, Ghostwritten, a section of which was included in New Writing 8, was published in August 1999 to huge acclaim.

Here are a few of my favourite quotes:-

"...every conscience has an off-switch hidden somewhere."

"Sometimes the fluyffy-bunny of incredulity zooms round the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left , ago, in the starting cage."

"Every nowhere is somewhere."

"We - by whom I mean anyone over sixty - commit two offences just by existing. One is Lack of Velocity. We drive too slowly, walk too slowly, talk too slowly. The world wit do business with dictators, perverts and drug barons of all stripes, but being slowed down, it cannot abide..."

"The heating systems composed works in the style of John Cage."

"Middle-age is flown, but it is attitude not years, that condemns one to the ranks of the Undead, or else proffers salvation. In the domain of the young there dwells many an Undead soul. "

"Mrs Wagstaff's contempt for her young husband, if bottled, could have been vended as rat-poison.... 'My husband could not compleat his schooling, Sir, so it is my sorry lot to explain the obvious, ten times a day.'"

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