Tuesday, October 18, 2011

May 1st, 2011 - Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is an acclaimed novel that, according to my cover, was a Finalist for the Max Booker Prize that is being turned into a movie starring Tom Hanks. (more on that later)

No one in my book club finished it, except for me and half of that was because I felt obligated as host.

Now Cloud Atlas, when you finish it, is an excellent book. It's extremely smart and entertaining and how he managed to write some of it is amazing to me.

But I can understand why people had a difficult time getting into it. Cloud Atlas is basically 6 different stories sandwiched into each other; a mystical birthmark and our knowledge of the timeline being the only thing linking them. The first story we are introduced to is written in the style of a travel journal written on a ship exploring and colonizing the Pacific.

I don't know how many 19th century travel journals you've read, but they're not the most gripping of reading material. The language is great at putting you to sleep, no matter how interesting/important what they're saying might be. You go through 40 pages of this before suddenly being cut off and finding yourself reading the letters of a bitingly witty composer in the 1930s, who we find out half way through his section has discovered the aforementioned travel journal. His letters cut off to go into another seemingly unrelated story and so on and so forth. It really is interesting if you finish the whole thing. Mitchell's genius at being able to write 6 completely different styles of literature (two set in the future) is awesome...if you can drag yourself through some of those styles.

But my biggest thing is... how can Tom Hanks "star" in this movie if I can't figure out who the main character is to save my life. He might be in it...but there isn't really a lead role. I'm interested to see how this will play out.

If you're in for an intelligent read and have good skimming skills then definitely pick this up, otherwise I'd wait until you were in the right mood.

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