Cloud Atlas; Final Thoughts

Melissa of THE AVID READER’s MUSINGS and I want to thank you for joining our little cloud party this month!

She’s posted her final summary and I have yet to read it; I wanted to get my thoughts down and out before I am imfluenced by her sure to be impressive summation. SO. Have you already been there and are now coming here to see what I have to say? or will you go there first?  or have you read Softdrink’s thoughts?  Goodness, choices choices…

[update: I’m now reading Melissa’s BEAUTIFULLY CRAFTED review!  APPLAUSE!!  mine here is jumbled thoughts…]

This will be full of spoilers; I assume you’ve read the book.

Please admire Nancy’s photo of clouds of London:

Clouds of London, photo courtesy of Nancy the BookFool

OK, not to say that I was disappointed in this book, but I was let down a little in the second half. I wanted more! What more I wanted exactly, I can’t pinpoint. I don’t think I would have said that I thought Mitchell was a bit too ‘clever’ but now that Softdrink has put the words in my mind, I would have to agree with her. I do know that I tweeted something about Mitchell TEASING us with mild put downs of this all being ‘new age crap’. [Cavendish section 2]

And Trish asked about Whoah from the Sloosha section. Um, wha? huh?  Yea, this confounded me, too.

“Yay, the Prescients’d whoah strict rules ’bout barterin’ with us.”

I decided it was an adjective and started substituting AWESOME while reading. So, to translate this sentence, it would be like saying the Presients’ had awesome strict – or very strict – rules about trading with less civilized societies. Like on Star Trek. This whoah = awesome substitution worked for me. A few times it didn’t work, but most of the time, it seemed to.

I was miffed at myself that I allowed Halle Berry to implant herself in my head as I read the Meronym storyline. I was able to keep other actors out, thankfully. I do want to see the movie – do you?

I was happy that the Cavendish section worked out happy. I liked that ol’ guy. This was a humorous story line and I know I laughed often.

I was also relieved that Luisa survives. BUT. How did mean guy know to put a bomb in the safe deposit box!?  I could not withdraw my disbelief. And why did he go to the party at Luisa’s mom’s house? I missed something.

I also missed how Rufus’ boat was in the same marina with the Prophetess until we were back into the second Adam Ewing section. DOH!

I was annoyed that I saw the word ‘ordure’ again. He used this word at least THREE times. Just use manure, ShowOff. He used ‘adze’ twice, too.

One more technical issue and I’ll try to get at some meat. During most of the Sonmi sections, he spelled the -ight words as -ite but then I caught a ‘light’ and yet on the very next page ‘lite’ again. [pages 317-318]. POINTS FOR ME! ha. Editing…

I had the fortune of substitute teaching for one of my favorite High School English teachers and we studied Fahrenheit 451. Melissa  had mentioned some similar themes and these really stuck out for me; especially the government needed a scapegoat; to punish ‘the enemy’ in order to create social cohesion. Some elements of the future dystopian society also reminded me of Margaret Atwood. Anyway, I think Sonmi knew what she was doing but I was a bit in shock about how that ended! Didn’t see that coming.

I liked the Sloosha section once I got used to the language; I really am in awe of Mitchell’s ability to pull off the time/place/languages throughout.

I was sad for Robert Frobisher and quite anxious for Adam to surive, too. But what did it all mean?

I don’t know. That humans are bad? That greed will destroy us all? That as individuals we all have worth but we must fight corruption at every turn? That groups will always splinter into us vs. them and another reminder that power corrupts and absolute powers corrupt absolutely?

I’m giving this 4 out 5 slices of pie. I really did enjoy and appreciate the reading of this with others.

I now share some quotes:

“Funny, thinks Milton. Power, time, gravity, love. The forces that really kick ass are all invisible.”

“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” -p.320

“So, I asked ‘gain, is it better to savage’n to be Civ’lized?
List’n, savages an’ Civ’lizeds ain’t divvied by tribes or b’liefs or mountain ranges, nay ev’ry human is both, yay. Old Uns’d got the Smart o’ gods but the savagery o’jackals an’ that’s what tripped the Fall. Some savages what I knowed got a beautsome Civ’lized heart beatin’ in their ribs. Maybe some Kona. Not ’nuff to say so their hole tribe, but who knows one day. One day.
“One day” was only a flea o’hope for us.
Yay, I mem’ry Meronym sayin’, but fleas ain’t easy to rid.  -p.303

“Once any tyranny becomes accepted as ordinary, its victory is assured.”  -p.363


and VOCAB!

p.233 – samizdat – the clandestine copying and distribution of literature banned by the state, esp. formerly in the communist countries of eastern Europe.

p.202 & 330 – conurb – short for conurbation – an extended urban area, typically consisting of several towns merging with the suburbs of one or more cities.

p.367 – zazen – Zen meditation, usually performed in the lotus position.

p.367 – petrine – 1 Christian Theology of or relating to St. Peter or his writings or teachings.• of or relating to the authority of the pope over the Church, in his role as the successor of St. Peter.2 of or relating to Peter I of Russia.

p.368 – wazzock – a stupid or annoying person.

LINK to Half-Way Post Discussion
LINK to Cloud Atlas Vocab Post


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16 thoughts on “Cloud Atlas; Final Thoughts

  1. I think I liked this second section better than you did. 🙂 I responded to Melissa’s questions, so I’ll keep my comments short here – but I did figure that Whoah meant “very” or “much,” too. The language in the Sloosha section was the hardest for me to wade through – I’ve never liked reading dialect.

    I didn’t notice the inconsistency in the “light” “lite” issue- good catch!

    And I think i read somewhere that the actors in the film are playing multliple characters, so maybe Halle Berry is playing both Meronym and Luisa?

    1. The multiple character playing actually makes sense! I’m glad you found the book – (both halves?!) satisfying. I AM glad I read it. I built it all up too much maybe? I know that after Sloosha, I flew through it to the end.

  2. I liked the 2ond half as much as the first. I liked how it all came together, in particular Adam Ewing’s conversion/realization to support the Abolitionist cause. I mean, that is the ending, is it not? To do right, to fight the good fight despite the Henry Goodes of this world. But also, you could see Crossin’ Sloosha as the real ending…where civilization has come full circle and humans are still bad and good. We make the choice. Thanks much for hosting this! I am so glad I read it and I plan on reading more from Mitchell.

    Re. the movie, I don’t think I will see it. It can never be as good as I imagined it. I fear it will be dumbed down too. Half the fund of the book is catching the connections. Will the film be as subtle?

    1. Yes, lots of circular references. and I agree with your assessment of Ewing’s realization.

      I love watching the movies just to see how they do it as much as to relive the stories so I usually like something and am not one to cry ‘book is always better!’

      1. Oh, I agree, the book is not always better. The Godfather is a better movie than book, IMHO. And I love televised versions of Dickens and Christie, if they are done well, they can be as good as the book sometimes. It depends on the book and movie for sure. In any case, I am glad I read the book first. I have never even seen Gone with the Wind (just pieces of it) and I still pictured Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable when I read it. So I am glad in the case of Cloud Atlas, I was able to form my own vision of what every one looked like first.

        1. Oh yea! It would be tough to avoid a Clark Gable thought when reading GWTW – so iconic?

          I am glad to have read this before the movie and have to admit much curiosity as to how they will pull it off.

  3. Great thoughts, I love it! I’m so glad we read this as a group, because I felt like each person noticed different things and brought up different points. I really struggled with Sloosha’s section and I don’t think I ever really embraced it.

    The vocab was insane and I agree that Mitchell was a little too proud of some of his clever bits, so that got annoying. Overall though, I really liked it. I wasn’t sure up until the very end, but those final pages tied it all together for me.

    I have NO idea why Bill Smoke went to the party at Luisa’s mom’s house. That made no sense to me. I’m actually excited to see the movie, but I am incredibly glad I read the book first. I could see it being really confusing as a movie if you don’t have the back stories, because they’ll have to move pretty fast to fit it all in.

    Thank you again for hosting this with me. I was so nervous to host my first readalong, because I thought that maybe no one would join in. I had a blast doing it with you. Maybe we’ll have to host another one next year or something.

    1. I forgot how confused I was by that party scene! It seemed unusual for Mitchell to skip important plot points – I almost wonder if he did it intentionally because it was an unedited manuscript?

  4. I think I had an easier time with the language in the Sloosha section than some of the rest of you all because I live with a surfer.


    They sounded like hillbilly surfers from Hawaii. Odd, I know, but it totally worked for me.

  5. Yup, I think I ended up feeling a lot like you did–wanting more. I think I was waiting for this awesome AHA moment where everything clicked into place but I never felt that way. I wondered if it would come after RF’s mention of his Cloud Atlas sextet but Ewing’s section was so droll that I was left not really caring whether I finished those last several pages or not. High hopes at the beginning but…

    Totally agree about reading this in Hawaii. And if Jillybean was on twitter she could have shared that whole hillbilly surfer thing with us. Think that would have helped with Sloosha. Ha! 🙂 Was fun reading with you guys–even if I trailed at the end. Glad we read this as a readalong.

  6. Great book but one thing has confused me. Rufus Sixsmith puts his report in locker N0909 at BY Intl Airport and posts the key, in a padded khaki envelope,to Luisa Rey. Luisa Rey receives a padded khaki envelope with a letter advising her that the report is at the 3rd Bank of California on 9th Street where she is later described as having a key,36/64. My only thought is that there are two separate boxes with two separate reports and the Bank of California one was a trap laid by Bill Smoke. Plausible? But then, why didn’t Luisa Rey also receive the enevelope from the airport?

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