One more David Mitchell book has been read, this one, maybe even his greatest.
When i began reading David’s books it was simply because of the furore generated by the film, Cloud Atlas. With all the expense, $102 million budget, it seemed worth it to me to give the book a read before watching the film. After all, no one paid $102 million to see this film be made without having read the book first.
So i read the book, and was so impressed by David’s writing that i went back to the beginning and read all of his books in order.
What i loved about some of his early books, like Cloud Atlas, were his subtle interconnections between seemingly unrelated short stories to create a whole story throughout. But as one moves along his list of books in their published order, one gets the feeling that he’s doing this with the books themselves. Each book does have subtle interconnections to his other books, and one is left wondering, after finishing his 6th book, is there a bigger story underlying all of his books that is yet to be revealed? Maybe, maybe not, it certainly wouldn’t detract any if there wasn’t but one can’t wait for his future books to see.
Back to The Bone Clocks, our story begins in Gravesend, Kent, with our protagonist, a teenager, Holly Sykes, who hears voices in her head and sees imaginary people. The story then flies off into the supernatural world of other beings and whizzes around the world with all kinds of odd and strange things going on, some natural, some supernatural, but all of which keep leading us back to Holly. It’s certainly quite a journey that Holly goes on and it’s one worth tagging along with her through this book.
And while we’re happily whizzing around the world, our writer also throws his usual little critiques at our contemporary world and life randomly into the mix, and David does have an exceptional talent in this area which always adds a little food for thought and makes reading his books a joy, IMHO.
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014, but didn’t get shortlisted — shame on them! But it does show just how good a writer David is when he’s had three of his six books longlisted, and two of those shortlisted. That’s quite a tally, and not to mention the other awards his books have received along the way.
I still haven’t got around to reading more of David’s books. I keep putting it off until my memory of the first 6 fades away then i’ll re-read them and totally binge on all the new ones as well, and see what this back story tells in them.
And onto David Mitchell’s fifth book…
It’s certainly a change from his other books, being based in Japan at the end of the 18 Century at the Dutch East India Company’s island/trading post, Dejima.
When the Shoguns closed Japan to westerners they left Dejima as the only doorway into Japan for Europe’s trade, and it was the Dutch who ran Dejima.
The book centres around actual historical events, but names and dates are changed to allow David to weave his tale. And the tale takes us inside ancient Japanese nefarious occult beliefs and practices as we follow our protagonist and his love for a Japanese midwife who becomes entrapped within the cultists’ lair, all the while having to deal with the political machinations within the interplay between Dejima, Nagasaki and the Shogun in Edo.
Once more, a great piece of story telling from this incredible writer, and a also an incredibly interesting look inside the life and work of Dejima itself at a very interesting time in Japanese history. Well worth a read after you’ve read David’s first four books, but do expect something rather different.
And i’m now embroiled in David’s 6th book, The Bone Clocks, which is more in style with his first four books and i’m enjoying immensely. I’ll let you know what i think soon.
One more book by David Mitchell that i just finished.
This book is definitely different to his first three books in that it’s semi auto-biographical. David is a stammerer and uses this book as his kind of coming out statement by creating a protagonist, 13 year old Jason Taylor, who is also a stammerer.
Jason lives in the nothing-much-happening-at-all village of Black Swan Green in Worcestershire (wherever Worcestershire is), and the book is written in 13 chapters each representing one month from January 1982 to January 1983.
One of the things that stands out most about this book is the utter lack of politically-correct words and views. Prior to the 1990’s in the UK, we had no concept of political-correctness whatsoever. Back then, children with defects and disabilities were hounded, abused and bullied: i know because back in the 60’s and 70’s i was a child living with a serious, life threatening disability or, as we were officially termed at the time, “invalid”. It’s quite incredible now to think back to how society used to view people with disabilities: just simply dismissed, throughout society, as invalid human beings.
Driven by the invalid terminology with which we were all officially labelled, there was simply no concept whatsoever in the general population of disability discrimination being seen as anything wrong: it was completely socially acceptable. I was 17 in 1982 — the year this story is set — and the way things were back then were very different to today. We had never heard of dyslexia, for example, and children who couldn’t read or write well were just branded as retarded, stupid idiots, segregated into remedial classes and generally shunned. For David Mitchell growing up with a speech defect back then i can imagine that life would not have been easy at all for a 13 year boy — which is what this book tells the story of.
But i have to say, this is an excellent look at life back in the early 80’s in general. The views of the school children that David writes about really take the reader back in time so vividly, especially for those of us who were teenagers back in the late 70’s early 80’s.
So i definitely recommend this book to anyone who was a teenager back then, especially if they had any kind of disability: having been a child with a disability back then i found this book very cathartic. I would also recommend it to all teenagers today, especially those who think that people’s disabilities and differences are invites to be bullied and abused and to be thought of as being lesser people, or even non-people. I would even go so far as to say that this book would be an excellent book for GCSE English: it would certainly make children think about a few things that they should be thinking about. And most certainly, it would be far more socially constructive for the next generation to be reading books like this than reading ever more shakespeare and dickens which have never done anything, at all, to improve our society.
Anyway, well worth a read.
Next up in the story line from David is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.
All i can say is if you’ve watched the film and haven’t read the book then you’re missing out on something special. Go read the book, the film is utter shite.
For those who don’t know, the book is a set of six short stories that all interconnect with each other, but here’s the thing, is that you get halfway through the first short when you are dumped into the second. Then, halfway through that you are dumped into the third. This goes on until you read all the way through the sixth one and come back down to the second half of the fifth, fourth, and so on until you finish the second half of the first story and reach the end. Amazing climax!!!! Literary orgasm!!! Superb read!!!!
I really like this six shorts in one with ties between thing. It’s definitely a thing, albeit rather rare. It’s certainly something that i want more of.
What Lot’s Wife Saw is also a 6 part book. Instead of short stories it’s about 6 letters all being intertwined into one story. Admittedly a lot different to Cloud Atlas, but still the six come together to make the whole.
So anyways, if anyone reading this knows of any other books that are a collection of 6 intertwined narratives that make the whole (i won’t complain if its 5 or 7 so don’t be too picky ), please let me know as i’m really enjoying this genre of writing.
Yet another great book from David Mitchell.
This story has us following a young Japanese man, Eiji Miyake, looking for his father through Tokyo’s twists and turns.
Eiji has never met his father as he is the child of one of his father’s affairs. Eiji’s twin sister died in a swimming accident when he was young and he is also estranged from his mother, and in so being this puts even more emphasis on meeting his father and being acknowledged as his son and finding some family.
The strange thing with this story (there always seems to be a strange thing with David’s stories), is that while the whole book is written in Eiji’s first person perspective, only part is real while the other part of it is the pure fantasy of Eiji’s imagination. But where real and fantasy meet, and which is which, one is left feeling never quite sure as they blend so seamlessly taking the reader on a journey where fantasy and reality become the same and/or irrelevant.
This is certainly a great book, especially for those estranged from parents while young, and a fantastic adventure (or maybe a fantastic fantasy) through the seedy underworld of Tokyo.
Well worth a read! David Mitchell is truly one of the greatest writers of our time.
David Mitchell’s first book, and what a masterpiece of a short story collection it is.
I’ve now got Number9Dream, also by David, lined up, then i plan to read the rest of David’s books in order and when David’s added a few more to the pile i’ll definitely be coming back to re-read them all over again from the beginning.
I’m definitely a huge fan of David’s writing and can truly see why he’s been shortlisted with two books for the Booker Prize already and has won other awards for his writing also.
I’ve added a comment down below this post which is a little bit of a spoiler, and if you are definitely going to read the book then do that before scrolling down there as you’ll spoil it. Then, when you’ve read the book, come back and read the spoiler and let me know what you thought.