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“this is not a detached dissertation but an exploration of my origins, an indirect attempt at self-definition” —Octavio Paz

Books today…

I read David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas in a day’s time on one of my Christmas-break-at-home reading binges after hearing its name floated on various blogs and from the lips of a respected classmate or two. It’s a truly enthralling book, well-balanced in style and form with a gimmick put to masterful use. If you haven’t read it, the most striking formal aspect is its nested structure: the first halves of the stories, each one about a century apart, culminate in a central story set in the post-apocalyptic future, after which follows the second halves of the stories in reverse order. Each section is a meta-fictive written account in the sense that each story is a self-contained written record (i.e. a private journal, a political thriller novella of a “true” story, etc.) that is somehow discovered by the character in the next story. E.g., one character finds the first half of the preceding story being used as a stump to balance a wobbly bedframe and his attempts at finding the second half become a subplot of his story, and the preceding story (the bedrfame prop one) resumes with the end of the character’s own story in the second half the novel and his discovery of the second half of the journal. A sort of russian nesting doll of a book, as it has been described. All that to background my having just finished his book written prior to that one, number9dream.

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Filed under: Books, Mitchell, Reviews

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