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A Reading Vocation

"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton

This is where I chronicle my reading life.  I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.


Book 78/100: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

This is a good "fat book" for people who are intimidated by "fat books" -- because it is divided up into six different stories, it doesn't feel long. I think the book is best enjoyed by just letting yourself sink fully into whatever story you are currently in, rather than stressing out about how they all fit together. I liked the nods from one story to another and the overarching themes in the book. Of course, I liked some of the storylines more than others. I had trouble paying attention during the Luisa Rey storyline, probably because I don't particularly like "genre mystery," and I think I missed that story's significance to the whole.

The others, which range from historical fiction to dystopia and post-apocalyptic, all held my attention fairly well, although aside from Luisa Rey, Timothy Cavendish was my least favorite. The futuristic stories were my favorites.

Although each section has its own "voice," the book somehow manages to pull off a cohesive overall tone. There is no doubt that Mitchell is a masterful writer, although this book's experimental style isn't going to be for everyone. Although I enjoyed the ride the stories took me on in the first half of the book, I found the second half to be somewhat lackluster in comparison -- each story seemed to be building to another one that was even more compelling, so going through them again in reverse felt like something of a deflation. It was also disorienting, since I had kind of lost track of minor characters or plot points in the earlier stories by the time I returned to them.

I went to the movie when it first came out, and I liked it. But there is no doubt that the book delves much deeper into characters and themes, and ultimately weaves a richer tapestry.