Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Breaking the Cloud Atlas Blog Jam


photo by Amy Brandon


“Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies, an’ tho’ a cloud’s shape nor hue nor size don’t stay the same, it’s still a cloud an’ so is a soul.  Who can say where the cloud’s blowed from or who the soul’ll be ‘morrow?  Only Sonmi the east an’ the west an’ the compass an’ the atlas, yay, only the atlas o’clouds.”  Zachry in Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

I’ve spent a month being paralyzed by the thought of trying to write about Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.  How do you write about one book that is actually six novellas intertwined?  A book that’s not about any one thing, but about everything and nothing, the grand and the minute.   It slices life in fractals across time and space with six different genres and settings, with at least as many themes and plot lines, and with characters too numerable to track without notes. 

I enjoyed Cloud Atlas because reading it felt like working a jigsaw puzzle.  I had to keep notes to keep up with the whos and whats of the stories, and I had to get past a certain page, I think around page 25, before I liked it at all.  Am I a better person for having read it?  Did I learn anything?  Any great revelations for me? Maybe not, but it was entertaining in several different ways, well written, often funny, and kept my mind engaged throughout.  I call that a book worth reading.

“’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?”

7 comments:

Barbara said...

Yeah Amy !
I may even get the energy and go back and look at my half written piece and finish it. Even though that was four books ago.

Barbara said...


I love your line about fractals. I also like descriptions about what it feels like to read a book, and thus like yours about the jigsaw puzzle, which I can see. I searched repeatedly for my own metaphor -- and never quite got where I wanted with it -- waves and mountain paths were two I considered.

Amy said...

Barbara, Your "Slinking Back to Blogging" post is what inspired me to get on the stick with this post! I finally took time yesterday to catch up on my blog reading and realized I feasibly could put off blogging forever if I didn't just DO IT. So I did. Love your posts!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I've spent the last six weeks avoiding writing reviews for the Cybils nominees I've been reading. I finally sat down and wrote yesterday and today I feel much better.

Here's my Sunday Salon.

Rachel Bradford said...

I'm eager to read Cloud Atlas but I've heard mixed reviews on it!

My Sunday Salon

Harvee Lau said...

Now I'm curious about the book, and the movie.

Amy said...

I can understand the mixed reviews, but I really did enjoy the book. I would NOT see the movie until after reading the book. You will have NO idea what's going on and will feel like you wasted $10. I liked the movie, but that's because I knew what was happening.