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|Product Alert: This book does not contain a misprint on page 39. We have received complaints from customers that they have received misprinted editions because of the way the story changes direction in the middle of a word on page 39 (for Kindle readers, the end of the first section). This is not a misprint or error. It is the way the author has written the book. He returns to the seemingly abandoned storyline later in the book.|
At once audacious, dazzling, pretentious and infuriating, Mitchell's third novel weaves history, science, suspense, humor and pathos through six separate but loosely related narratives. Like Mitchell's previous works, Ghostwritten and number9dream (which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize), this latest foray relies on a kaleidoscopic plot structure that showcases the author's stylistic virtuosity. Each of the narratives is set in a different time and place, each is written in a different prose style, each is broken off mid-action and brought to conclusion in the second half of the book. Among the volume's most engaging story lines is a witty 1930s-era chronicle, via letters, of a young musician's effort to become an amanuensis for a renowned, blind composer and a hilarious account of a modern-day vanity publisher who is institutionalized by a stroke and plans a madcap escape in order to return to his literary empire (such as it is). Mitchell's ability to throw his voice may remind some readers of David Foster Wallace, though the intermittent hollowness of his ventriloquism frustrates. Still, readers who enjoy the "novel as puzzle" will find much to savor in this original and occasionally very entertaining work.
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Mitchell's virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the oral history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel. Only after this do the second halves of the stories fall into place, pulling the novel's themes into focus: the ease with which one group enslaves another, and the constant rewriting of the past by those who control the present. Against such forces, Mitchell's characters reveal a quiet tenacity. When the clerk is told that his life amounts to "no more than one drop in a limitless ocean," he asks, "Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker
I read the book AND watched the movie and still couldn't tell you the basics until I read the wikipedia page on the plot. Very confusing, but I guess the complexity makes it good? Read morePublished 1 day ago by brandi lawson
David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is insane. Insanely well-written, insanely intricate, and yes, just plain insane. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Nicholas C Wisseman
A fun fast read. I read one book after the other and look forward to more reading more of David Mitchell's work.Published 10 days ago by David
Notes on Diversity:
This is another book like The Windup Girl that is what I would call "surface diverse"--as in scratch the surface and all the diversity is gone. Read more
I found this at the bottom of the Book Club box and wondered why nobody had read it yet. Then I saw that it was being made into a film with Tom Hanks...Now I had to read it. Read morePublished 11 days ago by M. Hogan
There is so much to this book! As soon as I finished it I started it all over again and will definitely read it again soon. My new favorite book!Published 11 days ago by Ronald L Spence
I picked up this book without having any background information on it. I didn`t even know what genre it was.
I was completely blown away by this book. Read more
When I became a huge fan of the movie, I did not realize CLOUD ATLAS was based on a novel. I thought such a complex plot of six interweaving story threads to be the product of a... Read morePublished 11 days ago by D. Mikels
What an awesome experience! This book has layers upon layers, and everything fits together like pieces of a moving puzzle. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Amazon Customer