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Author Topic: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Pants
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Can’t recommend this highly enough.

I finished it a couple of weeks ago and can’t stop thinking about it. What a phenomenal book; it’s the best thing I’ve read in many years. It starts in the 1850s and, via six different narrators and writing genres, brings us into the present day, then off into a scary "corpocracy" of the distant future, then even further into a post-apocalyptic tribal future…and then all the way back again. Very hard to pin down, but the closest I can get is Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang mixed with Money-era Martin Amis mixed with Aldous Huxley and a ‘70s anti-globalisation crime genre novel. It all hangs together ingeniously and there’s page after page of virtuoso writing, wisdom and…humour. Absolutely brilliant book.

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Fergies ocg
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I met David Mitchell and his wife a few years ago, through work, I hasten to add, not some showbiz do.It's not every day you get a Booker prize nominated author popping in to see you. I've always meant to read some of his stuff but it never really appealed somehow. But I might give that a go, it sounds more like my sort of thing.
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Pants
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I’ve not read anything else by him, Fergies. But as soon as I clear a couple of unread novels staring accusingly down at me from my bookshelf, I’m going to read both Ghostwritten and Number9Dream. The bloke is the genuine article - and he’s only 32 or something, I think. Reading Cloud Atlas, I was consistently blown away by both the brilliant writing craft and the phenomenal scale of the thing. It’s a beautiful book, a mighty achievement and, in my opinion, an absolute shoo-in for this year’s Booker Prize.
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Fergies ocg
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Got the book off Amazon the other day. I'm just reading The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish ,the fourth narrative, which is very funny. I'm only 150 pages in, so really looking forward to the futuristic sections of the book, which will be most of the book. He's got such a brilliant imagination, I'm really looking forward to seeing what he envisions for the future.

I love the way each story is interwoven into the next one,how the past influences the future.

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Pants
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Hope you enjoy the rest of it, Fergies. By the way, Timothy Cavendish is my personal hero.
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Fergies ocg
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Finished it yesterday, best thing I've read in ages.Funny, scary, sad, satirical, political. Didn't realise it comes back to the second part of each story (doh!) Loved the bit where Sonmi finds out what happens to the servers when they get onboard Papa Song's ship - Mitchell obviously not a big fan of McDonalds. The first part of the Timothy Cavendish story in particular is great stuff, reminds me of a few train journeys I've been on ("the lottery of death" as TC calls it.)
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Jimski
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I've decided I really must read some David Mitchell. This is because I saw a quote where he says that he keeps Haruki Murakami's books in his mind while he writes - "I wanted to do what Haruki Murakami does, depicting Japan as it is, and finding the beauty in the ugliness." His work has also been compared to Murakami by other people, in this case rather accusingly, but it still makes me want to read him.

[ 18-06-2004, 08:11: Message edited by: Jimski ]

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gyp
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I recently finished number9dream and was hugely impressed. It was impossible for me not to think of Marukami a little bit when I was reading it, but I guess that's largely because I don't read many books set in contemporary Japan. I'm on the hunt for either of his other books now - I think I'll pick up Cloud Atlas to while away the 12 hour plane flight I have to endure next week.
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Pants
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Recently read Ghostwritten: it's brilliant, perhaps even better han Cloud Atlas. Mitchell is awesome - a master. Slightly reminiscent of Murakami, yes, but that doesn't taken anything away from this bloke's utter genius. Brilliant, brilliant writer.
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Jimski
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Yeah, I've just read Ghostwritten too. There are very slight similarities to Murakami, but hardly enough to suggest Murakami particularly. I reckon he's got his own voice (voices given the structure of the book), and it's a bloody good one. Brilliant book. I'm now starting on number9dream. I'll move on to Cloud Atlas once it comes outin paperback.

I'm just about out of Murakami now - awaiting the new one (Kafka on the Shore) in January. I even read his short story collection, The Elephant Vanishes, recently, and that was bloody fantastic too. There's one other story collection (After The Quake) to read, and then I'll have read all his fiction.

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gyp
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I picked up Cloud Atlas a few weeks ago and finished it very quickly. What a phenomenal book. It's incomparable to number9dream (which I liked) - just the sheer ambition of it blew me away. And it was all so wonderfully realised. So I immediately went out and bought Ghostwritten. For some reason I wasn't quite as impressed. Perhaps it was the similarity of its structure to Cloud Atlas. I still thoroughly enjoyed it, but if felt a bit "ah, he's going for this linked narrative trick again." Which is probably unfair (especially seeing as Ghostwritten came before Cloud Atlas). Regardless I'm looking forward to whatever he publishes next.
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ale
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gyp's comment is the main reason why I havent yet taken the plunge on 'Cloud Atlas' despite universal recommendation...

'Ghostwritten' was so good by virtue of its originality & freshness ...while 'Cloud Atlas'sounds more accomplished I cant help feeling the thrill of the first novel will have been sacrificed...

and what was tolerated in the first novel may be irritating three or four years on....sometimes the sublime of 'Ghostwritten' became the ridiculous in 'no9 Dream'and it seemed that the author was trying too hard to be clever and fresh(the bit involving the goat and his companions simply grated)...

will await the paperback release in conjunction with Waterstones/Ottakars weekly '3 for 2' offer..

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Pants
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quote:
For some reason I wasn't quite as impressed. Perhaps it was the similarity of its structure to Cloud Atlas. I still thoroughly enjoyed it, but if felt a bit "ah, he's going for this linked narrative trick again."
Those were my feelings when I first started Ghostwritten, but about five pages in, all doubts were forgotten. Mitchell is brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. The best young author out there by a country mile. In every single segment of Ghostwritten he just gets the outside environment and the characters’ inner worlds so thoroughly and brilliantly. You just never once doubt the world you’re in – whether it’s urban Japan, rural Ireland, contemporary Hong Kong, the mountains of China or the streets of Islington. Once again – as in Cloud Atlas – the phenomenal intelligence and virtuosity of the writing never irritates because it’s constantly alternating between funny/shocking/moving. What an amazing writer.

By the way, at 3-1, Cloud Atlas is "the hottest favourite ever" for the Booker Prize this year.

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Jimski
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I've got the paperback edition of Cloud Atlas being sent to me from the USA at the moment. Even with postage, still much cheaper than the hardback here, and I can't wait for the paperback release next year.

I absolutely adored Ghostwritten, as I said above. I've just finished number9dream, and enjoyed that too, though it had more flaws than Ghostwritten. Particularly the GoatWriter stuff mentioned above - how boring and pointless was that? I ended up virtually skim-reading those parts. Otherwise though, the narrative was inventive and compelling. Certainly it both indirectly and directly referenced Murakami, but that piece I linked to before went well overboard about it. (Fancy linking GoatWriter to the Sheep Man - I mean how exactly are they similar?)

I'm looking forward to Cloud Atlas, especially given the fact I know it has similar structure to Ghostwritten.

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Pants
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quote:
Even with postage, still much cheaper than the hardback
Jimski - yeah, the hardback's expensive, but it's a really beautifully produced book. The jacket design, artwork and finish really do it justice. I'm often a wait-for-the-paperback man, but in this case, this novel is something really worth owning in hardback. By the way, what did you make of the 'disembodied voice' and the 'radio phone-in' chapters in Ghostwritten ? They were seriously out there, but still two of my favourite chapters in the book. The voice-without-a-body stuff in particular was mind-blowing.
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