Quick Book Review: Ghostwritten by David Mitchell (DNF)

Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

David Mitchell is one of my favorite authors. I loved his last book The Thousand Autumns of  Jacob de Zoet, enjoyed Black Swan Green, very much enjoyed Cloud Atlas, and also liked Number9Dream a lot. So, Ghostwritten was the only book I hadn’t read yet.

So I pick it up and what happens? I don’t really enjoy it. I read about a cult member who has been involved with a gas attack in the Tokyo subway system, about a young man working in a Tokyo record store, about a Western laywer in Hong Kong, and a woman who owns a tea shack in China. Then I stopped reading, as even after 130 pages, I was not interested in the rest of the book.

To me, these are short stories, and I am not keen on short stories, I like a plot line the whole way through a novel. According to wikipedia, there are some connections between the (in total) nine parts of this book (and indeed I discovered one or two), but these were too loose to pull the stories together into one novel. For me, at least.

According to the back of the book: “In nine corners of the globe, nine characters from an art thief in San Petersburg to a terrorist in Okinawa hurtle towards a shared destiny, oblivious of the intriguing ways their lives intersect and influence each other. From this dazzlingly original novel of love, metaphysics, history, politics and ghosts emerges an unforgettable vision of our common humanity.”

Other than not liking short stories, these particular stories did not appeal much to me. Only the first one, with a crazy (brain washed) cult member was interesting. I just hoped at some point he would realise what he was really doing. He was an intriguing character, but his story stopped much too soon (I assume to be returned to later in the book). The man in the record store I didn’t care about much and so it went on with story lines and characters that I had no interest in.

Somehow, the similar set-up in Cloud Atlas didn’t bother me at all – those stories were longer, more complete and interesting, I guess. I seems I cannot say much sensible about this book other than “I didn’t like it”. 🙂 So there.

Rating: did not finish

Number of pages: 438 (I read until page 130)

First published: 1999

I got this book: from a bookswap (Bookmooch)

Genre: contemporary fiction

Have you read this book?

Did you enjoy it?

About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at bookhelpline.com. In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

28 Responses to Quick Book Review: Ghostwritten by David Mitchell (DNF)

  1. Tony says:

    The more you read, the more the stories are intertwined – by the end, everything is interconnected…

    Still love this book 😉

  2. What a shame you did not like it. I don’t read a lot of short stories either, but what does that matter, when the writing in Ghostwritten is so marvellous, the stories so engrossing? I remember being very excited at discovering such a great (at the time) unknown writer.

  3. I’m not a short story fan either most of the time. Think I’ll give this one a miss.

  4. Charlie says:

    Sounds like a lead-up to his later work, in the way that the experience of writing this could have led to the success in Cloud Atlas, for example, as what you’ve described here sounds similar to what others have described as successful about Atlas. Interesting to have that extra perspective and insight, though!

  5. It sounded like it would be good but I am not a fan of short stories either although I am interested that the one comment says by the end they connect.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Yes, I also like that, Sheila, when things come together at the end of a book. In this case, the connection was too weak to keep me going until the end.

  6. I loved Thousand Autumns SO MUCH. You know, I think I may have read Ghostwritten because it sounds very familiar to me. But if so it was long ago..and the library website is down right now 😦 I was going to search through my reading history. Rats.

    • Leeswammes says:

      I also loved *Thousand Autumns*, Jennifer. A pity you can’t find back whether you read this book. I often have to check with books whether I read them or not. You hear so much about them, in the end you’re not sure you actually read it yourself or not. 🙂

  7. This was my least favourite Mitchell and I can see why you abandoned it – I might have done so had I read it recently. Short stories aren’t my thing either. 😦

  8. Tesney Ap says:

    Too bad it didn’t go well. The cover of the book look really interesting though.

    • Leeswammes says:

      Tes, yes, I think the cover is part of a series, i.e., the other books by Mitchell (from the same publisher) have a similar cover. It’s very nice.

  9. Caroline says:

    After my recent (mis)adventure with Girl Reading I have a feeling I might not like this either.
    I do like short stories a lot but not short story collections which pretend to be novels.

  10. JoV says:

    aww.. I hope you read the Ghostwritten one day again. I have been trying to get a copy for myself and re-read it… one day? 🙂

  11. Chinoiseries says:

    What a disappointment, Judith, as you have enjoyed his other books. I’ve got Cloud Atlas ordered, and I need to find out what all the fuss is about (and because it’s adapted into a movie). Perhaps in the future he’ll write a book that you’ll be able to love? Ghostwritten appears to be one of his older books. Who knows, his writing blossomed after that? 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Chinoiseries, I have loved all Mitchell’s other books so I have good hopes that his next book will be a good one.

      I hope you’ll enjoy Cloud Atlas. I’m curious about the movie.

  12. I don’t like short stories and I remember my frustration with this book. Several times I became very involved with a character and then it would move onto the next section. If memory serves me correctly he never returns to any of the characters but I may be misremembering. Nontheless by the end of the book the stories do all intertwine beatifully – I remember feeling quite smug on finishing it because I finally understood what was going on!

    • Leeswammes says:

      Morna, good for you to finish Ghostwritten! Maybe the end may be worth it but I just found the reading too boring. It also depends on mood of course. Maybe I’ll try it another time and love it!

  13. I really liked this book. The links between the stories aren’t as obvious as in Cloud Atlas but they are there. My favourite Mitchell book is number9dream. Are you planning on reading it? I’d be interested to know what you think.

  14. Pingback: Boekrecensie: Tijdmeters door David Mitchell | De Boekblogger

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