Saturday, April 08, 2006

Oh, you must read: Cloud Atlas.

There is ambition, and then there is this. Easily the most awe-inspiring experimental narrative that I've ever read. Entertaining. Enviably sophisticated. And so alarmingly well-written that the experimental pattern of the novel is never -- not for one page, one paragraph -- anything but background.

You can't help but notice the distinctive pattern, true. But to see it as something separate from the stories (story?) that form the foreground of the book is quite impossible.

Separate stories. Separate genres, even. Separate narrative voices. Separate protagonists, or 'overlapping soloists', if you will. And one stunning narrative that reaches across all of them to tell the fundamental story of good versus evil. It's a rollercoaster of a story that travels through art and envy and fear and loathing and curiosity and intelligence and the future of the world as we know it.

When I finished the book, I put it down beside me and just sat there, drinking in the feeling of such an immense piece of writing.

It's David Mitchell's third book, and I'm certain to look for the other two -- in a while. For now, I'm going to savour the aftertaste of Cloud Atlas.

Not since AS Byatt's Possession have I been so blown away. Not for many, many years have I been -- so much -- just another reader.

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