21 November 2008

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

Easily the best book I have read in 2008, and quite possibly one of my 10 favourite books of all time - of course, the label, "favourite" often requires some modicum of time lapse in order for the label to stick (and thus, let us at least wait until the end of the calendar before jumping to any hasty conclusions).

I feel inept and feeble at describing the haunting beauty of Mitchell's work, if not the shear breadth and depth of its genius. One could describe it crudely as an interspersing of six short stories, but this would be like firing a basketball into a pool - simply too easy to have missed the point entirely. One could gawk at Mitchell's brilliant ability to both change scope and pace in the mere passing of 80 pages, but again, this would be an 8th graders response to a oft repeated ritual - the book report. Rather, it is in Mitchell's creation of a near tapestry-like work of art, that the reader begins to get some sense of the almost epic tour de force.

Highly recommended - but be forwarned, you may need to bring along a dictionary (if not an encyclopedia) to this literati picnic.

Curiously heavy things, guns. It emanated a bass note against my thigh: it's killed people, for sure; this little Luger went to market. Why did I take it, exactly? Couldn't tell you. But place its mouth against your ear and you hear the world in a different way.


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