Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
1st read (2009): A lovely book of nesting stories, lightly connected to each other in various ways. My favorite was Letters from Zedelghem, because I love how Mitchell writes about music. I haven't found out how he can be so cheeky and reverent about people and life at the same time, but he manages, and it makes me feel so connected to his characters and stories.
2nd read (2012): As usual, I had forgotten quite a bit of this book. This time around, I instigated this as a "renegade read" for the Sword and Laser bookclub, picked it for my LED book club, and joined half the country in reading it before the movie comes out. I don't think I really got the story before, didn't get the 'punchline' of sorts to "An Orison of Somni-451."
I downloaded the audio for this too, even while I re-read most of it in print. Every different section has a different narrator, and the "Sloosha's Crossin'" chapter was far easier to listen to than to read because of the post-apocalyptic Hawaiian dialect.
This book is a masterpiece. I can't believe it didn't win the Booker Prize when it was on the shortlist. Full disclosure - I haven't read the Hollinghurst, but it would have to be really good to impress me.
I'm looking forward to the discussions I'll be having about this book, and here's to hoping that the movie doesn't get it wrong (not banking on it).
Some of the little bits:
"A half-read book is a half-finished love affair."
"I might as well join the avant-garde and throw darts at pieces of paper with notes written on 'em."
"That love loves fidelity, she riposted, is a myth woven by men from their insecurities."
"How vulgar, this hankering after immortality, how vain, how false. Composers are merely scribblers of cave paintings. One writes music because one is eternal and because, if one didn't, the wolves and blizzards would be at one's throat all the sooner."
"We'll dip our toes in a predatory, amoral, godless universe - but only our toes."
"Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms around the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage."
"Oh, aging is ruddy unbearable! The I's we were yearn to breathe the world's air again, but can they ever break out from these calcified cocoons? Oh, can they hell."
"..As if there could be anything not done a hundred thousand times between Aristophanes and Andrew Void-Webber!...As if Art is the What, not the How!"
"And only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean! Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"