Where to start with Mitchell: here or with Cloud Atlas?

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Showing 1-21 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 11, 2010 8:40:16 AM PDT
Leary Blaine says:
Although somewhat late to the party, I would like to start reading David Mitchell. But I'm torn regarding which work to start with.

Naturally, Cloud Atlas came first, so there's an inherent argument to start there. Plus, it's my understanding that one or more characters from CA recur in TTAoJdZ. So it could be beneficial to encounter them in proper sequence.

But TTAoJdZ is chronologically linear, evidently, unlike CA. So something's nagging at me to start here, then go back and deal with the time-jumbled CA.

Anyone have any thoughts on the subject?? I've got a few nice, long flights coming up, and Mitchell would be an excellent travel companion! Many thanks in advance for sharing your views.

Posted on Jul 13, 2010 3:05:13 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 13, 2010 3:06:06 PM PDT
A. McMillan says:
I was faced with the same heart-stopping dilemma upon reading the rave reviews for The Thousand Autumns, which led me to look up the other books by Mitchell, where I discovered the equally as rave reviews and TomHanksian movie plans for Cloud Atlas. I decided to start with The Thousand Autumns which I am a little more than half way through and I couldn't be enjoying it's story and Mitchell's writing any more than I am. It's shaping up to be my favorite new novel since The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao a few years ago, and I plan to read Cloud Atlas next; assuming The Thousand Autumns is as flawless in it's second half as it has been in it's first.

Posted on Jul 14, 2010 7:50:49 AM PDT
Cathy Carey says:
I have read Cloud Atlas several times, it is my favorite book. I rarely re read a book. His style is amazing, the stories are fascinating and the overall meaning is breathtaking. Have not yet read TTAoJdZ, but I think you could read in either order and be fine, but my suggestion is start with Cloud Atlas. I also read The Brief...Osca Wao and thought that was excellent too.

Posted on Jul 14, 2010 12:26:07 PM PDT
ratty says:
my experience was to read cloud atlas first and i am glad i did. if it had it been 1000 autumns first i would never have read another by mitchell. cloud atlas kept me on the edge of my seat, 1000 a's made me edgy. seriously no comparison.

Posted on Jul 20, 2010 12:24:43 PM PDT
L says:
I haven't yet read Thousand Autumns, but regarding Cloud Atlas: it's an experimental novel. If you're not into experimental fiction, you may find Cloud Atlas disjointed and lacking cohesion. The book is structured as multiple narratives which occur at different points in time (separated by centuries), and these plot threads and characters are only loosely linked in a kind of hand-waving, pseudo-metaphysical way. Each narrative is written in a different style and tone befitting its historical era and characters.

I *do* enjoy experimental fiction, and I still thought the multiple narratives lacked cohesion, though I enjoyed several of them separately.

From what I've read, Thousand Autumns sounds like a more traditional novel, so it's probably easier to start here. I may revise this after reading. :)

Posted on Jul 21, 2010 8:09:18 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2010 8:44:25 PM PDT
Douglas Duff says:
Reading previous David Mitchell novels seems to be unnecessary. I began with parts of Cloud Atlas and have not completed this novel; it seems to be difficult to put it all together and reads as separate novellas. I went to number9dream, quite similar to a Murakami novel, yet amazingly original. Then backtracking to Ghostwritten, I found the stories to weave tighter than Cloud Atlas. Black Swan Green was appealing and a cohesive novel compared to his previous works. Thousand Autumns will resonate in your mind for weeks (possibly months when the time arrives!) and requires a careful reading with many awarding memories that place themselves into dreams and daily thoughts. I would recommend Thousand Autumns before the rest unless you desire to understand the progression of Mitchell's style. Reading Cloud Atlas will most likely be rewarding as well and my desires to complete the novel were sparked by Thousand Autumns. Any response/retort to the above?

Posted on Jul 26, 2010 6:40:54 AM PDT
I bought Thousand Autumns just because I like ancient Japan. The first half has been so rich that I find I am savoring it and I'm looking forward to the second half. I read for an hour or so, and then find myself daydreaming about the characters and situations for the next few hours. Each time I open the book, it's like I am visiting old friends and I can't wait to "catch up" on what's happening in their lives. The people have become "real" as I read. I would recommend this book without a qualm. Fantastic read,

Posted on Jul 30, 2010 12:45:41 PM PDT
cincodemayo says:
I think Number9Dream is also an excellent place to start as introduction to DM. I guess I'm in the minority by saying Number9 is my favorite Mitchell's novel, with Cloud Atlas coming in a close second.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 6, 2010 3:23:34 PM PDT
Douglas Duff says:
I am with you. number9dream is great and is the reason for my journey into Haruki Murakami novels. Have you heard of this Japanese author? I recommend Kafka on the Shore as a starting point, and Hard Boiled Wonderland and A Wild Sheep Chase if you find it interesting.

Posted on Aug 8, 2010 11:21:17 PM PDT
If I had read TTSofJDZ first, I doubt I would have read another David Mitchell book. And I would have missed the brilliant and entertaining CLOUD ATLAS but really would have missed the fun and thrill of GHOSTWRITTEN which was my first and, to date, favorite of his books. I'd suggest that you start there, buy Ghostwritten and then Cloud Atlas. You'll want these books to read again and to lend to friends. All the rest, get them at the library. Not every attempt is a success.

Posted on Aug 10, 2010 7:35:23 PM PDT
Leary Blaine says:
Wow, thanks everyone for your input! I'm very happy to have it, despite (or perhaps because of?) the variety. I'll definitely download 2 (at least) before this weekend. For those of you in the middle of a Mitchell work, please consider offering your thoughts upon completion!

Posted on Aug 22, 2010 8:08:01 AM PDT
Don't start here, it's probably his worst.
Cloud Atlas is great.

Posted on Nov 7, 2010 3:37:51 PM PST
Ryan says:
I think Cloud Atlas is a more memorable and daring book than A Thousand Summers, but both are filled with gorgeous writing. If you (or whoever reads this) prefer a more traditional novel, go with A Thousand Summers. If you're game for a collection of vignettes that's really only a novel in a loose, thematic, meta sense, go with Cloud Atlas. I loved them both.

Posted on Jul 3, 2011 1:18:56 PM PDT
Jonathon says:
I think they're both equally good in different ways. But I'd probably start with Cloud Atlas first. There's more there to hook you in...and if you aren't familiar with Mitchell's style, the somewhat slow opening of 1000 Autumns might turn you off.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 12, 2012 6:14:32 AM PST
D. Beatty says:
I believe your first sentence is correct. I read Cloud Atlas first, about a year ago, and the "experimentality" (as some other reviewer put it) of CA didn't bother me at all; in fact, I kind of enjoyed that. (That book, my first read of David Mitchell, had been recommended to me by a friend with: 'if you like science fiction, you might like this ...' It would be interesting to hear from YOU whether you feel the way DM 'stitches' the various novellas in CA together, when you are done with it, was satisfying or not... ). At any rate, I just finished reading "Thousand" yesterday and the bittersweetness of the ending, and the appeal (to me) of his general style ('generalized' after my reading two books!) is still with me, and probably will be for months ... just as creative bits from CA still come to my mind every few weeks. On the strength of these two, I just ordered up three more of his today (knowing that will make Amazon and DM happier, and hoping the case will be the same for me :-)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 1, 2012 1:55:19 PM PDT
Erin Matson says:
so far I like ghostwritten, his first when he was only 31, the best. have sent for the thousand autumns.........

Posted on Nov 1, 2012 2:38:22 PM PDT
D. Beatty says:
(Wow... months and months go by and suddenly Amazon is sending me an e-mail about D Mitchell :-) Anyway, that was me above 'ordering up three more of his' ... And now, seriously, I have read them all, read them months back, just savoring my way through them in no particular order, because I just really got to enjoying the style of his writing... I am *still* remembering the creative bits from Cloud Atlas, even months later... But even a book like Black Swan Green, deliberately much 'smaller in scope', still succeeded. ... Out of all of them, for some reason, Ghostwritten would have to be my 'least favorite', now that all of them have been read here... But overall, all of them taken together, it's just a really strong authorship. ((Movies, so often, just don't carry over well from good books. Either that or they are 'a horse of a totally different color', and then have to be judged on their own merits. So I probably won't be rushing off to that movie, remembering what fun the 'reads' were. ))

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 7, 2013 7:02:00 AM PST
Erin Matson says:
my very favorite novel, & I read many, many, since a separate peace & the once & future king

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 29, 2014 10:54:20 PM PDT
FarmerZita says:
Yes, Kafka on the Shore is brilliant, thank you for the connection, very helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 29, 2014 10:57:34 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 29, 2014 10:58:08 PM PDT
FarmerZita says:
Yes, Once and Future King, a favorite as a teen. Then. Mists of Avalon, for sister Morgan's perspective.

Posted on Apr 29, 2014 11:03:09 PM PDT
FarmerZita says:
Thanks for your advice, Mitchell readers. Newly hooked by Thousand Autumns, my plan is next:
Cloud Atlas
Black Swan Green
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Participants:  15
Total posts:  21
Initial post:  Jul 11, 2010
Latest post:  Apr 29, 2014

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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell (Hardcover - May 13, 2010)
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