Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cloud Atlas

What do a nineteenth century traveller, a rakish young composer, a cute reporter from the 80's, an aging publisher on the lam from thugs, a fast-food drone from the future and a primitive man from the distant future have in common?  Answer: I have no idea.  If fact, if you find out can you let me know?  David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas incorporates these stories in his self described "Russian Nesting Doll" styled book. What does that even mean?  This is the easiest way to describe it, think of each story as a letter, the book reads like this (ABCDEFFEDCBA).  The "F" story is extra long because it is in the middle.  Once you realize this is the format, you might feel like you got "F'd" yourself.  The "A" story, set in the olden times, stops mid sentence and then picks up on page like 480.  I forgot to mention that F is written in heavy dialect. Luckily for Mitchell, these are compelling and creative stories, otherwise the work involved in reading this book would be annoying. Alright, still annoying, but a decent book nonetheless. 

Its hard to describe this book, its a collection of short stories some of which are set in the future some in the past but yet still integrated into a novel.  I think Mitchell went to an old-school brick and mortar bookstore looked at the sign above the sections and said: "I will write a book about True Crime, Music, Travel Narratives, Sci-Fi, Conspiracy Theory, Short Stories, sure, yeah, all of those."  Put them all in and let the reader sort it out.

Apparently this is not the first time he's told a story with multiple narrators whose stories intersect.  But Mitchell wrote that first novel in 1999. 1999 was the year when the Sega Dreamcast debuted, we still had a space program and the year Bill Clinton was acquitted of impeachment.  Anything was possible in 1999.

I've been reading a lot of books set in the future.  All have grimtastic vision of a ruined environment and the humans become impoverished and more primitive.  Essentially, the Planet of the Apes archetype.  Why can't the future be positive? A simple tax code, a fast and pleasant way to travel and dress shoes that don't feel like torture devices.  Now that I think about it, without that space program my dream shoes are never going to happen.  Planet of Apes it is. 

Drinks: A Dark and Stormy is apparently a trademarked drink name of Gosling Rum.  How about a Dark and Cloudy?  I like Flor de Cana Nicaraguan rum anyway.  Unlike Cloud Atlas, this recipe is very easy: 1/2 ginger beer and 1/2 rum over ice and a squeeze of lime juice to taste.

No comments:

Post a Comment