I think I've said it before: I am not a big fan of short stories. I tend to only read them if I really like the author. Although this is not a collect...moreI think I've said it before: I am not a big fan of short stories. I tend to only read them if I really like the author. Although this is not a collection of short stories, it is a "novel in nine parts". Each of these parts is a stand-alone story although they are all interconnected by themes, motifs, relationships and evens.
The reason why I normally don't like short stories is that it tends to take a long time to connect to the characters and setting and as soon as you have managed to get into the flow of things the story concludes and the characters vanish. At least that is how I feel about most specimen of this genre. Since the genre forces the writer and the reader to ration the time spent at a certain place or with a certain character, it is harder to read a story where the characterization takes up too much of that time. On the other hand, there is not much to a story that lacks a well-rounded character. So if you use most of your writing time and space to describe your characters and settings you might have to cut the plot short.
In Ghostwritten Mitchell manages to establish his characters and their surroundings within the first few sentences of every chapter / story. This made it very easy to just go along with the plot without having to "get to know the characters" because I felt I already knew them. For me Mitchell has thus accomplished something almost no other writer can do.
Additionally, the stories are so well connected and the effect when you decipher the connections and see all the motifs and themes repeat themselves is quite satisfying and - yes - fun! However, I can't say I've seen all the connections. This is a novel that lends itself to rereading and rediscovering. You can read the whole thing or parts of it again and again and probably still discover new connections and hints.
For the record, my favourites were Holy Mountain, Mongolia, and London. All of them for different reasons... and this where the ramble follows. Sorry in advance. Holy Mountain manages to tell a life story of a mountain dwelling woman from girlhood to old age within about 40 pages. And as if this alone is not an accomplishment in itself, the story is so full of emotions and violence and spirituality that I could not get over how beautiful and special this is. In Mongolia the novel reaches its magical realism peak, which to me is always a winner. 'Nuff said. And London is a fine example of the way Mitchell has with characterizing places as well as people. The love for this city is palpable in this - albeit, it is a grumpy and old kind of love.
There is so much more I could say about this masterpiece but I will leave it at that and stop the rambling. I enjoyed this novel a lot. Much more than I did his more famous work Cloud Atlas. And I am definitely going to read number9dream soon! (less)
What happens if everyone who ever died returns? How does humanity react? Who or what are these Returned? Are they the same people they were before the...moreWhat happens if everyone who ever died returns? How does humanity react? Who or what are these Returned? Are they the same people they were before they died? Are they people? These are interesting questions that are addressed in this novel. Its premise sounded to me like the perfect set up to meditate on death and what happens afterward. But also to show various reactions to something some might call a miracle and others the end of days – and again others might call a scientific oportunity. It enables a discussion about the role and value of religion, science, and government in today's society. And gives an excellent example of the way we – humans, that is – want our problems to be solved by some higher power - be it God or Government. Sadly all the question-raising and thought-provoking happens in the background, off-stage, so to speak. The plot advances so slowly and the characters remain fairly flat, the novel just could not keep my attention. I started skimming and did never get that nagging feeling of having to pick up the book every free minute.I did not even finish it. I might skip ahead and have a look at the ending. I also might just forget about it though. The problem is not that I need my stories to be action-packed and fast. However, if a topic lends itself to spiritual and philosophical questions I also expect a writing style that is able to convey the poetry of things (unless I am reading non-ficiton). This is especially the case in a debut novel by a poet. I had high hopes for The Returned, maybe they were too high to be met.Still, I want to end this review on a good note. The main plot line of the son who returns fifty years after his death is interspersed with short snippets of the other Returned. These glimpses at what is actually happening and how the whole situation affects individuals and is dealt with by the so-called Bureau were the interesting part. They are beautiful and touching and sad. They are a hundred times better than the main plot. Maybe Mott should stick with short stories, he seems to be brilliant at them.(less)
This is very well-written and I loved the idea of the nested narration. However, the plot of the stor...moreSomewhere between two and three stars, actually.
This is very well-written and I loved the idea of the nested narration. However, the plot of the stories themselves seemed rather boring and the magical realism was a bit too subtle to my liking. (less)
Gekauft habe ich die Sonderausgabe von "Schlaf" vor allem wegen der wunderschönen und düsteren Illustrationen und auch der Klappentext schien mir sehr...moreGekauft habe ich die Sonderausgabe von "Schlaf" vor allem wegen der wunderschönen und düsteren Illustrationen und auch der Klappentext schien mir sehr viel versprechend.
Die Kurzgeschichte über eine Frau, die aus dem Alltagstrott ihres Lebens ausbricht, weil sie plötzlich nicht mehr schlafen kann /muss stimmt nachdenklich. Die Prämisse nicht mehr schlafen zu müssen, sozusagen Zeit geschenkt zu bekommen ist zunächst verlockend. Doch Murakamis Protagonistin beginnt auch über ihr Leben nachzudenken, ihre Ehe, ihren Sohn. Sie genießt die nächtliche Zeit für sich, zweifelt jedoch auch an ihrem Leben und nicht zuletzt an ihrem Verstand.
Die Geschichte selbst lässt den Leser etwas unbefriedigt zurück. Andererseits regt sie auch zum Nachdenken an. Über Zeit und wie man sie nutzt. DIe Illustrationen runden das ganze ab und geben der Geschichte einen düsteren, mysteriösen Anstrich. (less)