Nataliya's Reviews > Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
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Oct 10, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: hugo-nebula, 2012-reads
Recommended to Nataliya by: Kris
Read from September 25 to 30, 2012

I was a third into this book and I could not care less about it. It didn't seem we were meant to be.

Then suddenly my heart was aching for the characters and their stories, and it did catch me by surprise.

And now it's been a week since I finished it, and I still find myself thinking about it. 'Okay, you win, book!' I have to admit grudgingly. You've wormed your way into my heart and I'd better make my peace with it.

Why did I resist liking it so much? Why did this book and I have such a rocky start to our relationship? Sheesh, let me think about it as I lie here on the imaginary psychiatrist's couch in Freudian times.



You see, its 'revolutionary structure' and all - it is basically six stories, five of which are arranged like concentric rings around one central uninterrupted story, slowly moving from A to Z as the stories go along (from Adam to Zachry), - leads even the author to question, "Revolutionary or gimmicky?"
And I say - gimmicky, my friend. Jarring, unnecessary, trying too hard and yet being needlessly distracting.


(Hey, you can also compare this book to the rings a raindrop makes in still waters. See, I can be allegorically poetic when need arises).

Would I have been easier for me to love it had it come simply as a collection of six stories related by the larger overarching theme? Perhaps. But we cannot always chose what the things we love look like, can we? Sometimes they just have to have that incredibly annoying anvil-heavy comet-shaped birthmark, and I have to make my peace with it.
"Another war is always coming, Robert. They are never properly extinguished. What sparks wars? The will to power, the backbone of human nature. The threat of violence, the fear of violence, or actual violence is the instrument of this dreadful will. You can see the will to power in bedrooms, kitchens, factories, unions, and the borders of states. Listen to this and remember it. The nation-state is merely human nature inflated to monstrous proportions. QED, nations are entities whose laws are written by violence. Thus it ever was, so ever shall it be. War, Robert, is one of humanity's two eternal companions."
This book is a message, yes. About the never-ending power struggle that seems to be inherent to humanity, that drives it forward - until one day it perhaps drives it to the brink of demise. It's about the amazing resilience of humanity that bends but never breaks under the never-ending forward march of the power struggle. It is about our seemingly inevitable separation into the opposing camps - the oppressors and the oppressed, the powerful and the powerless, the haves and the have-nots, justifying those sometimes murky and sometimes crisp division lines with the arbitrary but hard-to-overturn notions of superiority and entitlement. It is also about the never-ending human struggle against such division, in one form or another.
"But, Adam, the world is wicked. Maoris prey on Moriori, Whites prey on darker-hued cousins, fleas prey on mice, cats prey on rats, Christians on infidels, first mates on cabin boys, Death on the Living. The weak are meat, the strong do eat."

.........................

The first/last story of Adam and the central/middle story of Zachry (again, A to Z! See how smart I am? See? Can I please have a cookie now?) provide the real framework to this story, mirroring each other and reflecting off each other in the repeated motifs of tribal wars and slaughter and the meeting of 'developed' and 'primitive' nations, told from the viewpoints of members of first one and then another and underscoring essential humanity below all the superstitions and prejudices and mistrust. The revelations at which both Adam and Zachry arrive are simple and perhaps overly moralistic, but still relevant and humane. And despite the moralistic heavy-handedness, I loved them.
"Why? Because of this: — one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the Devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction."
As for the rest of the stories, David Mitchell plays with every genre and style he can imagine, trying to fully immerse himself in the period, real or imaginary, that he chooses to describe - with mixed results, at least for me.

I hate to say it, but Robert Frobisher's story (the composer of the titular Cloud Atlas musical piece) left me cold. Luisa Rey's pulpy cheap prose held my attention only for the first half of the story and Timothy Cavendish's flowery adventure - only for the second. Sonmi-451 for the first half of the story was delightfully reminding me of The Windup Girl that I loved, and fell flat in the rushed second part. It almost felt that some of these stories were too large for the limited amount of space Mitchell could give them, and they would have been benefited from expansion.

But the Sloosha Crossing story - Zachry's tale - won me over completely, once I got over the migraine induced by overabundance of apostrophes in this futuristic simplistic dialect. S'r's'l'y', Mr. Mitchell, there had to have been some perhaps less 'authentic' but also less headache-causing way to tell this story. But I got over the initial defensive response and allowed myself to enjoy this scary postapocalyptic setting which in so many ways reminded me of The Slynx by Tatiana Tolstaya. There is just something that I love about the postapocalyptic primitive society setup, something that speaks to me while terrifying me to death at the same time, and this story had plenty of that.

And now, apparently, there will be a movie, which explains why everyone and their grandma is reading this book now, getting me on the bandwagon as well. The movie, that from the trailer seems to be focusing on the part that made me eye-roll (just like it made Mr. Cavendish, editing Luisa Rey manuscript!) - that damn souls connectedness bit. I thought the hints at it were unnecessary dramatic; to me enough of a connection came from all of the characters belonging to our troubled and yet resilient human race. But to each their own.
"He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay it along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!" Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"


4 stars is the final verdict. And maybe someday in the future I will reread it being prepared for the gimmicky structure, and I will not let it annoy me, and I will maybe give it five stars. I would love that!
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Reading Progress

09/25/2012
12.0% "I'm not sure how I feel about this book at this point yet. Maybe I need to let it grow on me." 7 comments
09/27/2012
27.0% "Well, it's beginning to grow on me a bit. Maybe it's only because I like Luisa Rey. We'll see." 2 comments
09/28/2012
47.0% "I loved the chapter about Sonmi 451. Reminds me of "The Windup Girl".
I'm not quite sure how I feel being thrown from one world to another every time a new chapter starts. Irritating or fascinating? We'll see, I guess. A chapter about 'Sloosha' is next." 2 comments
09/28/2012
50.0% "This Sloosha chapter is making my brain hurt. Did David Mitchell happen upon a huge sale on apostrophes when writing this novel? S'r's'l'y'." 3 comments
09/29/2012
62.0% "Okay, so I think I like this book now..." 3 comments

Comments (showing 1-50 of 84) (84 new)


Jason ...and??


Nataliya ... and I got distracted by Valente, but review will come, and I'm still unsure about the final rating (as in - round up or down),


Jonathan Well I guess it depends on how much you liked it. You could compare to other books to work out a round up or round down?


Jason Yay, another Sloosha's Crossin' fan! Nice job with the A to Z, by the way. I hadn't caught that. We also agree that the whole 'soul connectedness' thing didn't really resonate with us as readers, but we both loved the whole humanity aspect of the message to which each of the stories contributed.


Nataliya Really?
Then I'm giving myself a well-deserved pat on the back ;)
Sloosha was the best chapter, and I actually wonder how much it was because it continued uninterrupted, unlike the other stories. But you know, ever since I saw 'Planet of the Apes" when I was six, I've been fascinated with the idea of postapocalyptic civilization discovering the relics of the previous - "our" - civilization.


Jason That chapter really flowed for me once I got the hang of the devolved language, and I really loved the relationship of Zachry with Meronym.


Nataliya Jason wrote: " We also agree that the whole 'soul connectedness' thing didn't really resonate with us as readers, but we both loved the whole humanity aspect of the message to which each of the stories contributed. "

Right. I wish the birthmark and the connected souls bits had been lost under the editor's red pen! Those bits felt contrived and added after the fact, after the stories had been written - just to make sure the readers get that the stories are connected. That felt like a trick that cheapened this book, and it was so unnecessary. Mitchell does an excellent job allowing the message of the story connect the parts of the book and create a cohesive narrative, and I wish he just left it at that.


Nataliya Jason wrote: "That chapter really flowed for me once I got the hang of the devolved language, and I really loved the relationship of Zachry with Meronym."

Same here. At some point I got desensitized to the language and was able to enjoy the story while mentally filtering out the apostrophes. The character dynamic between Meronym and Zachry was amazing. By the way, I love that it was specifically mentioned how much older Meronym was than Zachry to extinguish all the possibilities of 'he's just attracted to her as a woman' instead of having him come to appreciate her for the person she is.


Jason Nataliya wrote: "By the way, I love that it was specifically mentioned how much older Meronym was than Zachry to extinguish all the possibilities of 'he's just attracted to her as a woman' instead of having him come to appreciate her for the person she is."

That's a great point. There was a lot of distrust there at the beginning that matured to a real tenderness, but it was never sexual. I liked how Meronym represented the sort of logical part of modern knowledge (that was somehow lost by Zachry's society) while Zachry depended on instinct and was in tuned with more traditional customs. It was almost like a 15th century European hanging out with a Native American Indian. Except their contrasts worked together, somehow. That scene where they climbed the mountain to have a look at the old weather station was some pretty amazing stuff to me.


Nataliya I love the supernatural elements of this story (including Zachry's temptation by Old Georgie) - did it happen in some way, did Zachry add them to the story later, did his son do it? I don;t know, but it's lovely.


s.penkevich Glad you ended up liking this one! I felt the same way though, it wasn't really until the second half that this book really struck me as well.


Nataliya s.penkevich wrote: "Glad you ended up liking this one! I felt the same way though, it wasn't really until the second half that this book really struck me as well."

I was worried for the good chunk of this book that it was going to be a boring slog through many many pages. I've been spoiled by recent experiences of love at first sight with most of the books that I end up enjoying, and this one definitely took a while to woo me.

By the way, I absolutely LOVE your review of this book!


s.penkevich Glad it did. I enjoy how everyone that loves this book seems to have a different 'story' which sold them. The Sloosha story seems to be a make-or-break story. Thank you very much, this is a great review as well!


Stephen M Awesome review.

Ha, I never noticed the A-Z thing. That's tight. That's just Mitchell having fun. Every criticism I've read just makes me think, that's what I loved about it.


Nataliya Well, I'm really proud of myself then for noticing the A-Z in this case. Unless I'm reading more into it than Mitchell's intentions were, of course.


message 16: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris Wonderful review, Nataliya -- and I am so happy that your review comments are a meeting ground for Sloosha fans. I'm re-reading Cloud Atlas, and I love that story even more now than I did when I first read it. I agree that the interplay between Meronym and Zachary was really well developed. I loved the intricacies of the dialect (some of the words Mitchell used were great), and especially his vision for this future society, the role of the past in myth making, the constancy of power dynamics, etc. The story reminds me of another favorite of mine, Always Coming Home -- LeGuin does such a great job developing an entire culture that I once taught the book in a class on The Literature of Ethnography.


Nataliya Thanks, Kris! It seems like you are a fellow Sloosha fan as well then? I'm really looking forward to your review of this book (no pressure!) since you always have amazing insights into every book that you review.

The constancy of power dynamics in this society was the saddest part, so clearly a parallel to the Maori/Moriori story told to us by Adam in the beginning of this book. How sad was it that even though everything changed in the course of this novel, everything remained the same. Oh humanity...

I haven't read the Le Guin book you're talking about, and I will be more than happy to remedy that. I only discovered Le Guin this year, and I'm in awe of her writing. I have Lavinia waiting on my night stand, and this one will follow it.


message 18: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris Nataliya wrote: "Thanks, Kris! It seems like you are a fellow Sloosha fan as well then? I'm really looking forward to your review of this book (no pressure!) since you always have amazing insights into every book t..."

Oh yes, I love Sloosha -- it's my favorite section, easily. I think it's so beautifully realized and developed, and so human.

BTW I do agree with you that Cloud Atlas does rely too much on some gimmicks -- probably why I love Ghostwritten more -- I think the connections between sections work much better there. But I do still love Cloud Atlas, and I want to look at how Mitchell expands his approach to consider connections over time as well as across space when I write the review.

I have some big reviews coming up -- if I can finish TM&M and Cloud Atlas this weekend, I will be very relieved.


message 19: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris BTW, I am wondering if any of you have read Hav by Jan Morris? She uses her skills as a travel writer to write a cautionary tale about modernity wrapped up in a fictionalized travel book. I want to write a review of it as well -- I found it to be such a unique approach to the genre.


Nataliya Oh Kris, see what you did? Now I will have to compulsively check GR every 5 minutes to see if you have posted TM&M review! That's the one I've been waiting for! Cloud Atlas will, of course, come second in the review-writing process, right?

Le Guin and Ghostwritten are both on my ever-growing TBR pile now. It's time to comb through that pile mountain and bring it down to a reasonable size.


Nataliya Kris wrote: "BTW, I am wondering if any of you have read Hav by Jan Morris? She uses her skills as a travel writer to write a cautionary tale about modernity wrapped up in a fictionalized travel book. I want to..."

I haven't read it, but it looks intriguing based on the synopsis. TBR mountain is about to topple over any time now...


message 22: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris Yes, TM&M is first. The review's a bear to write -- I love the book so much, and I am trying to focus on its personal meaning to me, with some references to historical, cultural and literary context as well. It's tricky to get the balance right. I found some great images, and I am working on quotes atm. It should hopefully be finished over this weekend - I am hoping for sometime tomorrow night, but that depends on how my afternoon goes and when I get home.

I'll send you an email when it's up, so no need to worry about that. It's kind of you to be looking for it! Your review is so inspirational to me.


message 23: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris Nataliya wrote: "I haven't read it, but it looks intriguing based on the synopsis. TBR mountain is about to topple over any time now... "

Laughing here -- I actually had a pile of books to review and books to read fall into my lap while I was typing my first comment on your review. I hope the cats know how to get help if I am buried in a book avalanche. :)


Nataliya I will appreciate the heads up about your review. I feel like a Kris groupie now ;)

When I wrote my review of TM&M, I didn't even try to express even a fraction of how I feel about that book - there's just too much to say given how incredible it is. I know you will do a better job at this than I ever could.


Nataliya Kris wrote: "Nataliya wrote: "I haven't read it, but it looks intriguing based on the synopsis. TBR mountain is about to topple over any time now... "

Laughing here -- I actually had a pile of books to review ..."


Well, if I don't hear from you this weekend I will assume that you are buried under the collapsed mountain of books. In which case I will alert the authorities so that you can be saved in the timely manner.


message 26: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris Nataliya wrote: "Well, if I don't hear from you this weekend I will assume that you are buried under the collapsed mountain of books. In which case I will alert the authorities so that you can be saved in the timely manner.
"


Thanks! For the cats, rescue activities take a distant second to napping, so I don't think they are very reliable. :)


Jonathan Definitely glad you liked this book Nataliya. I too hadn't noticed the A-Z thing. I was captivated by the metalinguistic elements as others will know (nudges s.penkevich) of how the different genres tied together and how he referenced other author styles. But now that you said that A-Z thing it kind of reminds me of the element in the story Z for Zachariah how there's the idea that Adam was the first man (in an alphabet book of Bible names) and since Zachariah comes last he must have been the last man in the Bible. Adam and Zachry kind of seem to play on that now that you mention it...


message 28: by Stephen M (last edited Oct 05, 2012 04:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Stephen M Holy shit. That's a brilliant insight Jonathan. I never thought about the name of Adam as a nod to the first man in the bible.


message 29: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris I love discussions like these. :)


Jonathan Stephen M wrote: "Holy shit. That's a brilliant insight Jonathan. I never thought about the name of Adam as a nod to the first man in the bible."

I think Nataliya should take 50, not 75 percent of the credit for pointing out the A-Z. 'Genius' often stands on the shoulders (or back) of other or greater genius.


message 31: by Scribble (new) - added it

Scribble Orca Not having read Mitchell, and still being a Mieville neophyte, but seeing tracts of similarity in reviews of both (or maybe that's just the reviewer? :P) I wonder if it wouldn't make sense to compare both authors....

Sorry if that idea offends anybody, of course.


Nataliya Scribble wrote: "Not having read Mitchell, and still being a Mieville neophyte, but seeing tracts of similarity in reviews of both (or maybe that's just the reviewer? :P) I wonder if it wouldn't make sense to compa..."

In this case it may be the reviewer :) I don't think there are that many similarities between Miéville and Mitchell (granted, my knowledge of Mitchell is based on this book only) except for the fact that they both can successfully take on pretty 'heavy' topics. But the approaches are quite different.

Jonathan wrote: "I think Nataliya should take 50, not 75 percent of the credit for pointing out the A-Z. 'Genius' often stands on the shoulders (or back) of other or greater genius. "

Honestly I'm okay with not taking any credit for it, actually, since all the credit belongs to David Mitchell!

Jonathan wrote: "Definitely glad you liked this book Nataliya. I too hadn't noticed the A-Z thing. I was captivated by the metalinguistic elements as others will know (nudges s.penkevich) of how the different genre..."

I've noticed that more books than just this one use the name Adam when they want to underscore the essential humanity/human nature of the character. The examples that immediately come to mind are "Good Omens" by Pratchett and Gaiman and "Genesis" by Bernard Beckett.


B0nnie I was shaking with delight by the second paragraph of Cloud Atlas. I would hate to pick just one story as my favourite...but...team Adam Ewing here.


Nataliya B0nnie wrote: "I was shaking with delight by the second paragraph of Cloud Atlas. I would hate to pick just one story as my favourite...but...team Adam Ewing here."

I finished Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' just before I started 'Cloud Atlas'. It was quite interesting to see that kind of prose again - but this time in a modern novel. On the same note, I did not realize that ampersand was quite popular way before 20th century!

Poor Adam - he was so naive for most of his story. Him not realizing what was happening with poor young Rafael made me actually yell out loud, 'Oh come ON, Adam, how don't you see it???" Poor gullible innocent man... at least he found a right direction in life after everything that happened to him.


message 35: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris B0nnie wrote: "I was shaking with delight by the second paragraph of Cloud Atlas. I would hate to pick just one story as my favourite...but...team Adam Ewing here."

I just finished my re-read of Cloud Atlas, and those final pages in the Adam Ewing chapter are so moving. I had to just sit for a while after I finished it.


Nataliya Kris wrote: "
I just finished my re-read of Cloud Atlas, and those final pages in the Adam Ewing chapter are so moving. I had to just sit for a while after I finished it. "


Oh, I know! It was the most perfect conclusion for this book. All the hope and determination and honesty - so moving!


message 37: by Kris (last edited Oct 05, 2012 07:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris And I love it that Mitchell gets his readers to sit back and re-examine the entire book, and then past, present, and future, through that lens. How often does a writer get you to do that, in a serious way that is inspiring and honest all at once?

It really makes me sad when people don't finish the book. :(


Nataliya Kris wrote: "And I love it that Mitchell gets his readers to sit back and re-examine the entire book, and then past, present, and future, through that lens. How often does a writer get you to do that, in a seri..."

True. I guess that is the benefit of the book being structured the way it is, with Adam's story introducing us to the novel and then serving as a conclusion. That hopeful note would be lost had the book followed the more traditional six stories format. Maybe I can make peace with the 'gimmicky' structure, after all!


B0nnie Nataliya, right on. The prose is amazing. Mitchell does in the 19 c. style beautifully. The Adam story balances the serious & the comic so perfectly it is sometimes difficult to tell which is which. I hope the ampersand makes a comeback & also the hyphen in to-morrow!


message 40: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris B0nnie wrote: "Nataliya, right on. The prose is amazing. Mitchell does in the 19 c. style beautifully. The Adam story balances the serious & the comic so perfectly it is sometimes difficult to tell which is whic..."

We can all use ampersands and hyphened to-morrows to help that trend along. :)


Nataliya B0nnie wrote: "Nataliya, right on. The prose is amazing. Mitchell does in the 19 c. style beautifully. The Adam story balances the serious & the comic so perfectly it is sometimes difficult to tell which is whic..."

I tend to use the simplified ampersand in my handwriting all the time, so I'm glad to see a piece of writing where it's acceptable.
And I fully agree with you on the comic and serious parts. There were bits where I was not sure whether to laugh or cry - or both.


Nataliya Kris wrote: "We can all use ampersands and hyphened to-morrows to help that trend along. :) "

I started with the ampersands in my review of Miéville's Railsea, but it was not received with much warmth :(


message 43: by Kris (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kris I fully support your ampersand usage, in any context you choose. :)


Nataliya Kris wrote: "I fully support your ampersand usage, in any context you choose. :)"

Thank you, Kris, it means a lot to me :)


Michael Fine, fine review as usual. Love your unravelling how you really felt about the sections of the book and the overall whole. It's a pleasure when you have reservations. You have been having a unrealistic batting average of 5 stars in your picks of challenging books recently. (Me, I was a gusher on the ideas in this one with little comment on the charms of the characters)

I think almost all of the reviews at GR are spoilers because the reviewers can't resist revealing patterns they discover. I avoided reading them except catching the thrust about the nesting doll structure. You put a nice new slant on that with your water ripple analogy. Now it's fun to read the great set to be found on GR.

Like a scavenger hunt, I got off on Frobisher's chacacterization of his "Cloud Atlas" musical score with its structure of movement. Obvious for anyone to see, yet still fun to "discover" like an Easter egg and not someone to tell me beforehand. Tucking most of my review into a spoiler wrap won't help that many other reviews speak of the patterns or others.

You honed in on the "Revolutionary or gimmicky?" bit and leaned toward the latter. I took it to feel like the former, while letting go for the ride on the sense of playfulness.

Maybe there are enough patterns and echos across the stories, hearing about some of them won't diminish people's experience from reading their way through. As if I told you, say, that Mozart gets lively by changing the key for a theme in an earlier movement, it wouldn't affect the thrill of listening to it. Or like the blind men descibing the elephant from different parts, complementary.

It was fun to see the wonderful set of connections people made with different writers and books. Like you felt similarities of the dystopia story with elements of The Windup Girl. I made a link to Diamond's focus on the origins of haves and have nots of various cultures. Other reviews tried to identify what styles Mitchell was trying to emulate with each story.

Then I discovered the link provided in Aloha's review of a Mitchell interview in 2004,
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/...
in which he did the unthinkable of revealing the sources of many ideas illustated in the book. Like putting a mirror to the back end of a Calvino book of interrupted stories. And trying to channel Melville as Ewing in the first story, taking on the Moriori after reading Diamond. The theme of predatory behavior "like a row of ever-bigger fish eating the one in front".

Spoiling his "secrets", Mitchell makes revelations that kind of feel like the exposure of the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz: (view spoiler)


message 46: by Kim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kim Here is your cookie - *cookie*


Nataliya Wow, thanks for such a thoughtful comment, Michael!

I *have* been rather lucky with my recent 'challenging' book picks, and maybe that's what was making it hard for me to initially like this one. I got rather spoiled falling in love with god books immediately, letting them woo me very quickly. This one needed a few dates to get to know it, to see the real substance underneath.

Funny that Mitchell compares Adam Ewing to Melville - I thought so when I was reading his part of the story! Funny also because I just started my long-overdue Moby-Dick reread (I have to finally experience that story NOT from a preteen point of view!).

Maybe there are enough patterns and echos across the stories, hearing about some of them won't diminish people's experience from reading their way through. As if I told you, say, that Mozart gets lively by changing the key for a theme in an earlier movement, it wouldn't affect the thrill of listening to it. Or like the blind men descibing the elephant from different parts, complementary.

I knew about the structure of the novel before I started reading it, and I'm very glad I did. Otherwise the frustration with getting each story rudely interrupted in the middle might have made me quit without giving this book a chance that it deserved. But since I knew that the interruption was only temporary, I was able to let go of the irritation and continue with the new layer of the story. Oh, and I actually did laugh when I got to the Cloud Atlas part of Robert Frobisher's story. It was the 'oh no, you did NOT, David Mitchell! You did not just explain your book here!' reaction. So matter-of-factly that one blink and I would have missed it. Playful it is, isn't it?

As for Mitchell's inspirations - I have to admit I'm not familiar with most of the works that inspired him to write this one. Well, now I have a reason to fix that ignorance!


Nataliya Kim wrote: "Here is your cookie - *cookie*"

Thanks, Kim :) That's so sweet - both the gesture and the cookie!


B0nnie I hadn't seen that article but I knew some of those sources from the acknowledgments section at the beginning of the book (& also there's this: "The character Vyvyan Ayrs quotes Nietzsche more freely than he admits, and the poem read by Hester Van Zandt to Margo Roker is Emerson’s “Brahma.”")


message 50: by Michael (last edited Oct 06, 2012 04:34AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael Nataliya wrote: "Funny that Mitchell compares Adam Ewing to Melville - I thought so when I was reading his part of the story! Funny also because I just started my long-overdue Moby-Dick reread
Never read MD but only "Bartley the Scrivener". God knows if there some buried MD references in Cloud Atlas.

I keep running into Melville references in my reading recently. Mitchell seems to thrive on such connections.

Back on the first bit that got you irritated. The contrivance of a nebula-like birthmark. I think he is just saying hi as the writer god peering through. The illusion to reincarnation is a bit of a game, yet maybe it seriously highlight the repititions of human folly and struggle over history.


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