Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
June 5, 2010 10 Comments
Like the other book by Mitchell that I recently read, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Cloud Atlas was a slow, very slow, read. I’m a fast reader but sometimes books slow me down, like those of David Mitchell.
On the one hand, that’s fine, because I’m reading a good story, but on the other hand, I can’t stand it. To give you some idea, I counted the number of hours it took me to read the second half of this book (the book has 530 pages in total), and came to 8 hours. In other words, the whole book takes 16 hours to read. If I could only read one hour a day, that would take me 2 weeks. Luckily, I had more time!
Notwithstanding my complaint, the book was good, interesting, varied, strange. There are six nested stories, that start in the past (around 1850) and move through time, with the sixth story taking place in a far-away dystopian future. Each main character from a story reads (or sees a film) about the main character from the previous (older) story.
So, in essence there are six separate stories, which are connected indirectly via their main characters. Half-way the book, the time line reverses, and the six stories are continued, one at a time, now from future time into the past.
The stories are all in different formats: there is a diary, a set of letters, an interview, a narrative that is most likely spoken, a detective novel. I found all the stories interesting to read, but the story furthest in the future was sometimes a little hard to follow.
I’m glad I re-read this book, it’s very different from standard novels. A good read, but a slow read.
Extra: See also my review of Black Swan Green by David Mitchell