Pip really is one of my favourite literary protagonists and I loved watching him grow up over the course of this book. It's too bad that Estella annoyPip really is one of my favourite literary protagonists and I loved watching him grow up over the course of this book. It's too bad that Estella annoyed the ever-loving crap out of me, which did negatively affect how I felt about this novel. And the ending was such a tease. This book has the dubious honour of being among those few I flung across the room in sheer frustration because I couldn't believe how ignorant some of the characters were. This book may also be why I never really liked Dickens....more
Even better and heartbreaking-er the second time around.
Reading this for an essay series but I really want to review it as a book and not through theEven better and heartbreaking-er the second time around.
Reading this for an essay series but I really want to review it as a book and not through the lens of a particular topic (and maybe I'll get around to doing so one of these days). This reminded me of everything I absolutely adore about Murakami....more
Okay, so first of all: Don't get me wrong, this is a mighty fine book. There's a reason David Mitchell is among my all-time favorite writers, and it'sOkay, so first of all: Don't get me wrong, this is a mighty fine book. There's a reason David Mitchell is among my all-time favorite writers, and it's mostly because he does beautiful things with the English language and knows how to tell a story both well and differently. Hell, I even picked up this book as a fictional escape when"Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell" got to be a little too heady and, even though this book is more than twice the size of Huxley's two essays, I wound up finishing it before I even got halfway through "Doors/Heaven." Unfortunately, as much as I hate when other people do it, I couldn't help but compare this to "Cloud Atlas," which is still my favorite of Mitchell's works. "Ghostwritten" is original, dazzling and an impressive first novel, but it just didn't win me over like the later book did.
Unlike the boomeranging technique employed to tell the story in "Cloud Atlas," "Ghostwritten" strings together 10 seemingly unrelated narratives told from nine individual vantage points; like "Cloud Atlas," the voices within "Ghostwritten" are all connected and, when pieced together, tell a much bigger story. And you'd better pay attention to the whole thing, because sometimes those connecting threads are not immediately apparent. Some of the novel's narrators even cross paths, though they are wholly unaware of the importance those casual encounters hold. Mitchell even takes it one step further by taking characters from "Ghostwritten" (Timothy Cavendish, Luisa Rey) and later dropping them into "Cloud Atlas," which adds a hovering sense that something bigger is happening to both novels. The unexpected treat of familiarity made for an enjoyable surprise.
It is pretty interesting to see how the smallest gestures and grandest actions affect each subsequent narrative. There's a reason Mitchell's novels constantly seem to be nominated for this award and that recognition -- he's a great writer who really knows how to craft multidimensional characters. Even if a new voice didn't grab me right away, I found myself completely fascinated by the way Mitchell employed in media res and variations on a theme to make his reader want to keep going. And it simply made for a fun read to see a writer so masterfully force his audience to consider seeing an event or a mindset from myriad perspectives. The whole novel toyed with the idea of right and wrong in ways most writers wouldn't be able to juggle.
I really wish I had read this book first. It's as compelling as it is ambitious, and getting to know its characters is as interesting as they are varied. It's a shame I couldn't force myself to either be more objective or stop comparing it to the poetic brilliance that is "Cloud Atlas." If "Ghostwritten" had been penned by a lesser writer, I'm sure I'd be laying the complimentary superlatives on right thick. ...more
I am so torn over this book! But I figure that being this conflicted between ratings probably means that I should err on the side of the fewer stars.I am so torn over this book! But I figure that being this conflicted between ratings probably means that I should err on the side of the fewer stars. Still: My kingdom for a half-star option!
There are lots of things I liked. Eiji, the main character, remains likable even as he's shuttled between hell and back, like, five thousand times in 400 pages and disappointed by nearly everyone who matters to him. There's a chance that his blossoming relationship with Ai contributed to my increasing fondness for him but I'm okay with that because their last exchange of the novel was so believably reminiscent of what it's like to be 20 and falling hard for someone you don't quite know. I liked the dreamy, Murakami flavor, especially after finding out that Mitchell counts him among his influences (according to the internet, which I totally trust all the time). I liked the David Mitchellness and how minute details wind up mattering very much, though I think his hallmarks are far less defined here in his sophomore effort than they are even in his debut novel. References to "The Man in the High Castle," "The Wind-up Bird Chronicle" and some music for which Eiji and I share an affinity were all tasty bonuses -- what can I say? I've got a mile-wide soft spot for fictional characters who have the same tastes as I do.
But there were also things I wasn't so crazy about in this book. It felt a little disorganized, which, intentional or not, didn't sit perfectly well with me. Some characters and a few scenes hogged a few too many pages: Had I found Eiji a little less interesting, the many detailed accounts of his odd jobs would have been downright tedious. And, okay, fine: The ending was a little too abrupt for me to be satisfied with it. Though I suppose having my way would mean that every book I ever read is at least 100 pages longer than the author intended.
Ultimately, this book suffers as "Player Piano" did, in that I'm cherry-picking my way through a writer's back catalog instead of chronologically working my way to the newer stuff: When I was planning this winding-down tour of my literary favorites' unread offerings, I actively chose "Number9dream" over "Thousand Autumns" in anticipation of that very reason. The lingering, negligible sense of dissatisfaction this book left me with is very much appeased by knowing that my sole remaining to-read Mitchell book is his most recent piece. ...more
I rate this not as the twentysomething adult I am now but rather as the fervently idealistic teenager I was ten years ago, when this was my favorite bI rate this not as the twentysomething adult I am now but rather as the fervently idealistic teenager I was ten years ago, when this was my favorite book ever and Howard Roark was my hero.
I doubt I'll ever read this again: I don't need to revisit this tome to be disappointed in my high-school self. But, God, did I ever love this book as a young'n. ...more
The writing throughout this collection was breathtaking in its beauty, but it was only "A Diamond Guitar" that really delved into into four-star terriThe writing throughout this collection was breathtaking in its beauty, but it was only "A Diamond Guitar" that really delved into into four-star territory for me....more