Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cloud Atlas

Just finished reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell today. It was a good read despite winning the embarrassing title of "Richard and Judy best read of the year", in it's favour it was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and the plot sounded interesting.

Basically it's 6 stories written in completely different styles and set in various times from the 18th Century to a post apocolyptic future. It's quite strange reading, cos just as you are getting into one story and style it abruptly ends and the next follows. The reason is that the story is finished later in the book, with the six stories arranged in a 1,2,3,4,5,6,5,4,3,2,1 order - if you get my drift. In fact the writing styles can be a bit frustrating at times until you've got the hang of it, especially the final story told in a futuristic dialogue which I can only liken to a fusion between the way the BFG talks and the characters of A Clockwork Orange. Each story has some kind of link to the previous, eg character in story 2 reads the journal of a character from story 1.

The common thread through the stories I think is a look at what drives civilisation, what is civil behaviour. What kind of society is it that prevails and becomes the stronger, is it the tribe which is the most brutal and oppressive that comes out on top. Whether that arrogance of superiority is found in completing a belief in a divine calling to make your race superior, or be it just through ruthlessness.

I found it avery interesting and enjoyable read, and interesting to see how all the threads end from the stories that are started in the first half of the book.

It's well researched and well informed too.

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