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Ghostwritten
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Ghostwritten

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Brevemike | 9 comments This book consisted of a string of interwoven short stories.
I really enjoyed this book...until the next to last chapter "Night Train".

No spoiler, but I really felt the author just wrote that chapter because he didn't know how to end the book. It didn't flow well in terms of logical outgrowth or storytelling. It didn't link together with the other stories as each previous story had.

I would have enjoyed the book more had I skipped "Night Train" and gone straight to the last chapter.

That said, I'm looking forward to reading more by this author.


message 2: by Monts (last edited Mar 21, 2013 06:13AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Monts (mutdmour) | 16 comments I loved this book. This is now one of my favorite books. I disagree with you about Night Train. That was my favorite chapter (Mongolia comes after Night Train as a second favorite). It was actually the chapter that tied it all together, tying the end and the beginning. I would have hated the book if it was just a bunch of stories connected to the one after and before it by a random character here and there. I don't like short story collections generally.
I thought "Night Train" was the only chapter that actually got me hooked. Every other chapter was slow in comparison. If I had not been very hungry, I would not have stopped reading it until I finished it. First of all, it flowed directly off the chapter before it, Clear Island. Mo's technology is what created these Zookeepers, giving the computers the power to think, to decide for themselves what is best based on specific laws.
Second of all, it connected to the first chapter, the one chapter that did not really connect well with everything else. Men could have ended their world right then with nuclear power, but the end of mankind was coming anyways with the comet coming to the earth. His Serendipity was right all along, the end was coming.

I loved the imagery used in this book. It was all very fresh, not cliché. I found myself laughing at phrases like "She is mad cow disease on two legs. And what legs those are?" This book requires patience, a slow reading, savoring every moment, like eating a steak. Unfortunately, I don't read like that. I read like I eat, to consume.

I have never read a book twice, but if there is a book I would want to read again, on a slower pace maybe, it would be this one.


Joseph Whitt (schmoterp) I'm not through this book yet - not even halfway - but I'm having a bit of trouble getting through this one. It seems that the stories are barely connectable. By themselves, my feelings for the stories has been mixed so far. Anyway, I suppose I'm just curious if I'm the only one having trouble here.


Brevemike | 9 comments Mutasem wrote: "I loved this book. This is now one of my favorite books. I disagree with you about Night Train. That was my favorite chapter (Mongolia comes after Night Train as a second favorite). It was actually..."

I agree that "Night Train" is the most action filled and engaging, but it almost seemed to be separate from the rest of the book. I could see someone making a film out of just that concept. Indeed I seem to recall other films (view spoiler)

Any time we read fiction (certainly speculative fiction) we are asked to suspend our disbelief and allow our imagination to be guided by the author's words. In this case I feel "Night Train" was a step too far.

In "Clear Island" (view spoiler)

Not only are we asked to believe(view spoiler)

No, I think that's asking too much.


Brevemike | 9 comments Joseph wrote: "I'm not through this book yet - not even halfway - but I'm having a bit of trouble getting through this one. It seems that the stories are barely connectable.

The stories are mostly tangential to each other, with brief intersections and recurring themes. At times the author is almost too sly in mentioning an event or a character from a previous story to create a connection to the present story.


Monts (mutdmour) | 16 comments Joseph wrote: "I'm not through this book yet - not even halfway - but I'm having a bit of trouble getting through this one. It seems that the stories are barely connectable. By themselves, my feelings for the sto..."

I see what you are saying now. It was certainly very different from the other stories. But after Mongolia, I was not surprised. In Mongolia, you were asked to believe that there is a floating spirit that can transmigrate between people, which I thought was a much more fresh concept than the one in Night Train (as you said, iRobot is an example of how not very original it was). It is easier to believe something you have seen before, fiction or nonfiction.

Though, I agree with you, in Night Train, I was confused about the whole animal/visitor distinction. Humans were not all visitors. In the example of the African village at the end, the villagers and the killers were human, but ones were the animals and ones were the visitors. I thought that's where the metaphor broke down. It's more like protecting animals from each other would work for a better metaphor.

As for the question of contacting the DJ, it's a hard question to answer. Who would you turn to for moral issues? Some people turn to religion in its various form. Others turn to others. Some turn to books. I tend to do a mix, depending on the question. It comes down to the algorithm of the Zookeeper, what the "If statements" say. In iRobot, the robot calculated the chance of survival for the kid and Will Smith, choosing to save Will Smith. That's probably the most practical way to create "intelligence", ranking the pros and cons of each option and choosing the larger number, "the least bad option" (Argo).
I feel there is an answer to why choose the DJ. I certainly would not have liked a story about a computer debating Kantianism with itself.

But there is also a practical reason why he chose the DJ, but I cannot put my finger on it. Remember when the DJ was asking why he chose his show to ask these questions. Zooey said he had fired (or killed) all his bosses the first call. In the second call, I will just quote ("Choose another showcase for your talents." "I must be accountable". "Why do you keep saying that? Who says you have to be accountable?" "My first employers." "But last year you said you fired them! Will you be straight with me? Hello?")
Here is another key that there is a reason from the new designer ("Accountability outweighs invisiblity? That I understand. But from the whole globe to choose from, why choose this nobody for your confessor?")
While I don't have an answer yet to why the DJ, I can tell you why he did not turn to books based on these quotes, books don't provide accountability. Why the DJ? Maybe someone specific is always listening to this show. Maybe it's about more than one person knowing, that's why he chose a radio show. Why this show specifically? The CIA was listening, but they cannot watch every channel on radio and TV. We might have to go through the book again and look for insights on who listened to the radio. I searched for key words, radio and new york, throughout the book, but there is no clue anywhere.
I am beginning to look at this within a new light, the Mongolia chapter. All the talk of "they squander their gift. They transmigrate into human chaff for hosts..." in Night Train from the second designer reminds me of the spirit in the Mongolia chapter. Maybe humans succeeded in combining these things using quantum cognition, spirits that can transmigrate through technology and people, absorbing information on the web.


BookLover6767 I tried so hard to like this book. The first story grabbed me right away, and I was really hoping there would be a lot more about the cult, and His Serendipity. Once it moved into Tokyo, however, I could see that it wasn't going to hold my interest very well. Mongolia grabbed me yet again, but to me it didn't have the same feel as the rest of the book. By the time I got to Night Train I just wanted to finish the book.

I don't think the author had enough of a global timeline planned out to make this type of novel work. Some of the connections were too coincidental, and didn't make a whole lot of sense. And, to top it all off, the tie ins with Cloud Atlas (Tim Cavendish, Luisa Rey) really shoves the theme of connectedness down your throat, making me even more uncomfortable about the novel.


Joseph Whitt (schmoterp) Yep, I finally finished Ghostwritten and I can't say I liked it too much. It felt very forced and in some ways trivial. Maybe that was the point but it wasn't my cup of tea. I think I need more closure than what was given.


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