Classroom conversation and cultural commentary / Jim Cullen
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Jim is taking some holiday vacation time. His recent reading includes David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, a book he's been meaning to take on for some time. The release of the recent movie starring Tom Hanks, among others, came and went, but release of the movie tie-in edition prompted a delayed departure into Mitchell's fictional universe. The novel is simply dazzling, a tour de force by a writer who effortlessly tells a series of interlocking stories that stretch from the 19th century far into an indeterminate future. Those stories include mystery, gothic and science-fiction, all of which comprise a profound meditation on the nature of history. Mitchell is positively Joycean in his literary ventriloquism; Mevillean in his capacity to grapple with ontological issues and Grishamesque in his ability to create and sustain suspense in the individual tales. (Plus he has a sense of humor, which emerges most vividly when the characters of succeeding stories comment/reveal what's really going on in preceding ones.) Clocking in at over 500 pages, it's a big book, but a deeply satisfying one. The tie-in edition features a new afterword by the author. My guess is that the film will eventually become a cult classic as novel and film synergetically feed each other.
May you all find satisfaction in a good book this holiday season, among other kinds.