This book blew my mind. This book also ripped out my heart and stomped on it and then stuffed the battered organ back in my chest cavity, breathed fea...moreThis book blew my mind. This book also ripped out my heart and stomped on it and then stuffed the battered organ back in my chest cavity, breathed feathery soft on it and set it pumping again. It was that good, that moving, that inspiring. It brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and left me feeling that wonderful mind expanding, worldview shifting buzz that only art (or sex, or chocolate) of the highest order can accomplish. I feel subtlety changed by this book.
First off, it engaged my intellect. Its intricate puzzle of loosely connected stories kept my mind sharp to each twist and turning, looking intently for the next incident that would tie disparate characters, locales and chronology together. Mitchell has first rate literary gifts, he juggles more balls than most writers would even dream of-and to go with that metaphor he’s so ludicrously daring and audacious in his choices that he’s more akin to those lunatic jugglers who work with sharp, flaming objects then some tired clown with three fuzz-faded tennis balls. The fact that this was a first novel demands even more respect.
Mitchell mixes philosophical concerns of the greatest gravitas(death, reincarnation, identity, creativity and theft, corporate greed, freedom vs. security, class agonies and the oppression of women ) with the old-fashioned capacity to tell a good story in unobtrusive, yet supple prose.
It has come to my attention that Mitchell isn’t everybody’s cup of tea. Some of my good pals here think he is a cold literary technician, empty of the wisdom he attempts to convey in this book. I couldn’t disagree more. Along with his intricate plotting and deft use of language, is a wonderful (wonder-filled?), compassionate view of the world that is inclusive, empty of petty judgment and wise to the hardscrabble shit of earthly existence, the commiserate joys of physical joining be it loin to loin, heart to heart, or in mere comradely shoulder to shoulder grinding through the days and the inevitability and sometimes desirability of that great equalizer, death.
So again back to the heart, the bruised organ I mentioned at the beginning of my review. I think I’m much more a man of the heart than a man of the head. I feel way too much. And I think maybe my loving of this book night be just as likely because I’m a rube and a sucker not because I’m a greater intellect than those that hated it. Maybe they are smarter than me. Probably I’m okay with that. Maybe I liked it because I’m foolish and open and willing to look for something, in this case an intricate Buddhist-inspired diamond-like view of humanity and its sufferings that showed that we are all connected, beyond boundaries of country, time, the accidents of birth and family, even to and beyond the gates of death. Even though my conception of a personal God has faded to practical non-existence I am still pulled to joy-filled myths of individual lives having meaning, and there being a benevolent seed of being at our centers and at the center of the universe.
And maybe I’m wrong. And maybe none of this matters. And maybe this book is just an intricate con-job. And maybe that is okay too. But this book made me happy. And I think you should give it a try. (less)