Monday, August 29, 2011
Map to excellence...(David Mitchell Redux)
I read David Mitchell's most recent novel -- The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet -- earlier this summer and loved it, so it was a no-brainer to filch his older, more renowned Cloud Atlas (Random House, 528 pgs, $12.00) off a roommate.
Without revealing too much, here's the rundown:
Think Nabokov. Think Jennifer Egan. Martin Amis. Mash in some history, the kind with veins that paint those ticklish realities that seem real, unreal, surreal, but always pellucid. You've got you're finger on it. In this shimmering, Russian Doll of a novel, Mitchell paints a number of worlds through a series of collapsing sub-novel novellas which peck at and toy with the others' unique realities both intriguingly and hilariously. And truly, these novellas span both time and space. From a Carter-era journalist to a Chatham Islands explorer to a genetically modified 'dinery server' living in the future, Mitchell proves his imagination is incapable of failing to limn out a world or era that does not thrill us. Lastly, the book is action-packed, which when you think about it, is a pretty remarkable thing. These days 'literary' novels skate through, 1,000 pages drizzling pontifications and ruminations left and right, while never actually doing anything. If that annoys you as much as it does me, here's your antidote. READ!