Monday, October 09, 2006

Cloud Atlas

by David Mitchell
Meet seafaring notary Adam Ewing, musical wunderkind Robert Frobischer, investigative reporter Luisa Rey, aging vanity press editor Timothy Cavendish, dinery clone Sonmi-451, and post-apocolyptic goatherd Zachry. Each of their stories begins in a time and place far removed from the previous story, and each story (save the last) is interrupted halfway through. One might expect a structure like this to collapse under its own weight, killing whatever interest one might have in the characters. Quite the opposite. Mitchell keeps us interested in all the characters, each story is returned to and concluded, and there are enough connections between stories that a larger story starts to take shape. (I must heartily recommend the audio version: the language can be quite baroque, and the six different narrators of the audiobook do an incredible job of keeping the story flowing smoothly.)

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