I am furious at myself for having avoided this book for so long, on the basis that, as I've heard and occasionally read, it would be “confusing”.
I have no idea what Cloud Atlas needs to be compared to in order to get classified like that, but it will probably take something really simplistic, because plotwise it is a perfectly comprehensible and enjoyable book.
I’m not going to get into details about the plot, because the storylines here (ok, so everybody knows it consists of six interweaving stories already, so this cannot count as a spoiler, can it?) are so brilliantly built that the less you know beforehand the better.
However, I will say that the miraculous thing about David Mitchell’s prose is that he manages to occupy different depictive voices so convincingly, I often had to wonder how I wasn't reading the collective product of several authors instead! (That good actually, yes).
Cloud Atlas is a genius story about the art of storytelling, with profoundly existential symbolisms, that demolishes fundamental literary stereotypes by joining together science fiction, historical fiction, political thriller, modern comedy (it is hilarious at times) and contemporary prose, without reading like a mixed bag at all. It is in fact an epic, solid adventure across time and the world, a powerful commentary on human greed and lust for control and a completely sui generis novel that is also an addictive page-turner.
A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.
And David Mitchell leaves nothing half-finished or ill-resolved for sure.
- “We’re brothers! Don’t you have a conscience?”
- “I sat on the board of a merchant bank for thirty years.”
- “My name is Gwendolin Bendincks.”
- “Don’t blame me.”
- Please remember, this isn’t an interrogation, or a trial. Your version of the truth is the only one that matters.
- Truth is singular. Its “versions” are mistruths.