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Cloud Atlas: A Novel Paperback – August 17, 2004
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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.|
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From The New Yorker
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
Top customer reviews
This book came recommended by a friend and so many people told me how the movie sucked so I was apprehensive. I think the issue is a lot of people don't understand the story because so much is left unexplained by the author. It's up to the reader to draw his/her own conclusions, especially with Sloosha's crossing. I loved how the middle of the book is actually the end, and the end of the book is actually the beginning. Brilliant.
I'm going to re-read this after I watch the movie to see if I can pick up any new details in the book.
Happy reading friends!
As you do, and his language is beautiful, his themes develop, and the cadence of the storytelling becomes a joy.
I loved this novel, one of the very best I have read in awhile, one I found delightfully easy to read. It was not, as some suggest, difficult to read, or finish, or a laborious project to complete. I read it in a week with a busy schedule, because I couldn't wait to see how the stories competed and how Mitchell would finish weaving his tale(s). Brilliant.
But, yes there is a but, the movie, which tells a the "same" story with substantial plot differences, though it is emotionally and thematically the same story, is one of only two novels turned into a movie where I have to say that the movie is better than the novel itself. More Wachowski magic. I know, I know, it hurts to admit, but it is true.
Note to self: Need to read A Canticle for Leibowitz again. Dr Schwartz would be so shocked, and very pleased with himself.
By the way, I thought the film was terrible. But I highly recommend the book.
The five (or so) days I spent on this journey, were filled with an array of emotions. Though at times (not many, then it some) the reading became tedious, I never felt like giving up. I had already experienced some of the payoffs in reading such riveting and beautiful parts.
I can say, without a doubt, I have never experienced any reading like this. I'd been on a mission to find literature so beautiful an escape and I knew I'd succeeded about 1/10 of the way in. While the first 15-20 pages were...difficult, the rest was magic. How cheesy and cliche I sound, I know.
I recommend this to readers of all types. The multi-genre aspect will appeal to many and prevent it from ever becoming stale or monotonous. I also recommend reading the book before seeing the movie as I've only heard positive reviews of the film from those who've previously read the book. I haven't seen it yet but I do hear one common theme among viewers who hadn't read the book before watching and that is that it's too complex to understand.
The final thing I'll say about this reading is in regard to many of the hundred or so reviews I read about the book (which nearly deterred me, but thankfully didn't, from purchasing/reading this work.) Many reviewers claim that Mitchell didn't do a great job of connecting each of the six stories together. That while each story is easily good enough to stand alone, they couldn't find a linear connection between them all. First of all, I think Mitchell did so in a perfectly subtle and understated way, but I also think that their connections are, in a lot of ways, left to the interpretation of the reader. This is not an easy task, by any means, but in my opinion, it worked. Finally, does every book we read need to have some clever, profound message? Reading, to me, is about enjoying the journey, savoring each moment as they come. That's not to say I didn't find profound messages, but that's not what it's all about. Take this book for what it's worth; it is a journey, an experience to be savored and used as a beautiful escape, a way to stay in and enjoy the moment. Have zero expectations; simply, enjoy.
Most recent customer reviews
I hope more people will read The Cloud Atlas by Liam Callanon.Read more