January 24, 2015

Info on Cloud Atlas

The third novel of David Mitchell is Cloud Atlas, published in 2004.


A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified "dinery server" on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation - the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where in may lead us.


David Mitchell in Bookworm (2005) discussing Cloud Atlas.

Review: number9dream by David Mitchell


So many stars. What are they for? 

What is a dream and what is reality? How many possibilities exist and how many of them unfold before us? How much does it cost to let go of your ghosts? number9dream explores all those questions and leaves the reader ready to experience life as a result of those endless possibilities. And the feeling is present from the very first chapter. 

Young Eiji Miyake moves to Tokyo in order to search for his father, which is a challenging quest since he doesn't even know his name. But all these weeks that the book follows his life we become witnesses to a vast change in his feelings, his thoughts, his memories, his being. At the end of the story Eiji is no longer a youth, but an adult who knows his origins, who tries to understand his mother and finally let go his idealised notion of his father and the tragic death of his twin sister. 

So long ago,
Was it in a dream?
Was it jast a dream?
I know, yes I know,
It seemed so very real,
Seemed real to me.
Took a walk down the street,
Through the heat whispered trees.
I thought I could hear.
Somebody call out my name
as it started to rain.
Two spirits dancing so strange...

I will not try to explain this book, do not be fooled, this is not one of those where everthing in the end is crystal clear. Each reader has to find its little twists and turns, to travel along Eiji and maybe learn something about himself. As Eiji at some point understands everybody has his dark secrets and we should learn to accept them in others and let the past rest within us. 

Similarly to Ghostwritten the structure of number9dream is unique, although in this book we deal with only one narrator. Each chapter has a very distinct theme, which influences the writing style accordingly. Possibilities, memories, video games, tales, card games, and even kaiten appear one after another and let us have a glimpse in Eiji's past and present. 

So, my advice is...

A jewel for your library!






January 12, 2015

Info on number9dream

The second novel of David Mitchell is number9dream, published in 2001.

Summary of the book: In outwardform, number9dream is a Dickensian coming-of-age journey: Young dreamer Eiji Miyake, from remote rural Japan, thrust out on his own by his sister's death and his mother's breakdown, comes to Tokyo in pursuit of the father who abandoned him. Stumbling around this strange, awesome city, he trips over and crosses -through a hidden destiny or just monstrously bad luck- a number of its secret power centers. Suddenly, the riddle of his father's identity becomes just one of the increasingly urgent questions Eiji must answer. Why is the line between the worls of his experiences and the worlds of his dreams so blurry? Why do so many horrible things keep happening to him? What is it about the number 9? To answer these questions, and ultimately to come to terms with his inheritance, Eiji must somehow acquire an insight into the workings of history and fate that would be rare in anyone, much less in a boy from out of town with a price on his head and less than the cost of a Beatles disc to his name.  

David Mitchell discusses number9dream on Bookworm

Review: Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

Title: Ghostwritten

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Sceptre

Date of Publication: 2000 (first published in 1999)

Number of Pages: 448

Find it at: Book Depository

Summary

A gallery attendant at the Hermitage. A young jazz buff in Tokyo. A crooked British lawyer in Hong Kong. A disc jockey in Manhattan. A physicist in Ireland. An elderly woman running a tea shack in rural China. A cult-controlled terrorist in Okinawa. A musician in London. A transmigrating spirit in Mongolia. What is the common thread of coincidence or destiny that connects the lives of these nine souls in nine far-flung countries, stretching across the globe from east to west? What pattern do their linked fates form through time and space?

A writer of pyrotechnic virtuosity and profound compassion, a mind to which nothing human is alien, David Mitchell spins genres, cultures, and ideas like gossamer threads around and through these nine linked stories. Many forces bind these lives, but at root all involve the same universal longing for connection and transcendence, an axis of commonality that leads in two directions—to creation and to destruction. In the end, as lives converge with a fearful symmetry, Ghostwritten comes full circle, to a point at which a familiar idea—that whether the planet is vast or small is merely a matter of perspective—strikes home with the force of a new revelation. It marks the debut of a writer of astonishing gifts.

Review

Ghostwritten is one of those books that lingers in your mind long after you have finished reading it. It's made of nine stories, placed in different places in the world. The narrators are so different people, with so varying pasts and futures that on the surface there is no connection between them. But until the very last page you know that what brings them together is chance. Indeed, this is a novel based upon the idea of chance. 

The stories that reveal this fact are the ones taking place in London and in Clear Island. Or as Dr. Mo Muntervary says "However far away they are: between John and me, between Okinawa and Clear Island or between the Milky Way and Andromeda: if one of the particles is spinning down, then you know that the other is spinning up". The stories and the events that connect them are just like particles. The narrators do not know each other, most of the times their paths don't even cross, but the way they intervene is vital for the future of the other. The Secret Deposit Agency of the doomsday cult doesn's exit, Quasar calls a record store without him knowing and in the other end of the line Satoru delays just enough to meet the girl he is obsessed with.

Ghostwritten has a unique structure, although it's a bit risky. Each narrator has his own personality and David Mitchell managed to create nine different stories that do not feel unconnected, yet at the same time are random enough to feel that indeed it was chance that moved them. This structure will appear again in Cloud Atlas, although in that novel it feels different.

After reading Ghostwritten I feel richer and I feel like I will be thinking about it for a long time. It's one of the books that grow on you. My advice is...

Read it already!

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!

I'm happy to announce that our first Reading Challenge has begun!

First book of the year is Ghostwritten, debut novel by David Mitchell, published in 1999.


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