Thoughts on pages 1-236 of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Random House Tradeback 2004
First, I understand that WordPress has changed their sign-in-to-comment process. I don’t really KNOW what you see if you are not a WordPress-Club-Member but do know that if Anonymous is available and you want to comment who you are instead, go for it. I hope no one has problems with the ability to leave a comment…
For those of you who enjoy the Basketball March Madness and yet ALSO LOVE BOOKS! You can play Out of Print Clothing’s BOOK MADNESS, although two rounds have been played already as I write this and likely all first rounds done by time this posts. Still, Cloud Atlas made the field! [Do check on how your favorite book(s) are doing. I was happy so many books I’ve actually read were playing.]
Be warned; I am just jumping in and letting my fingers type whatever pops into my head as I think about this book so far. Be prepared for a bumpy ride. I will come back later and link up to other readalonger’s posts or please add in comment. Thanks.
So, has everyone figured out that this book is a sandwich of stories that are connected successively? HOW DID HE (is doing?) THIS! When I first encountered the part I shall call the “ABRUPT ENDING” of the Adam Ewing section, I thought I had found a printing error. But I was dee-lighted by the wit and humor of our dear Robert Frobisher. WOW – although, I was caught off guard for him being set in the era between the world wars – he sounded so… OscarWilde-ish?
Didn’t you wonder about his friend? The one who was receiving these incredible letters? How generous he was to send funds and help with the book sales – which on a morality bent, what a scum for selling off books that didn’t belong to him. But I still found Robert Frobisher fascinating. He was/is my favorite character so far. Just saying out loud “Robert Frobisher” is fun. “Rufus Sixsmith” is fun to say, too.
And then we meet Rufus! It is appropriate that I refer to these interlacing parts ‘sections’, yes? First is the Adam Ewing section, then the Frobisher Zedelghem section, then Luisa Rey/Rufus Sixsmith section. (What a jarring violent thriller of a section that was.)
I cried when we met Javi on page 98. I have a feeling we will see Javi again even if that section and its later reference in the old guy’s incarceration section (Timothy Cavendish’s ghastly ordeal) suggests things did not end well for Ms. Rey. But I am so curious about the HALF-LIFE in the title and what the radioactivity angle will be.
Let’s discuss how each section ends. Of course the ABRUPT ENDING of the Adam Ewing section was noted by the reader AND Robert Frobisher in his section. [Aside – I did NOT pick up on the sinister dear doctor hooking our Adam on drugs – forehead slap! Thank you Robert Frobisher for that analysis.] But the Robert Frobisher section – perhaps because it was a letter and he signed off? I thought it a gentle break before starting the Luisa Ray section. Maybe it was also the happiness of meeting Rufus Sixsmith so it felt only a disruption in time and not necessarily and odd jump into Who-Knows-What. Which is what happened for me when we meet Timothy Cavendish. Of course Luisa’s car getting bumped off a cliff is appropriately called a cliff-hanger, yes?
And then we meet Sonmi-451. It was at this point that I actually stopped and read some more synopsis of Cloud Atlas per reviews,miscellaneous online reading guides and my own introduction post (which I skimmed, I really didn’t want to know ANYTHING going into this.) Mr. Mitchell goes all SciFi and dystopian on us, huh?!
I had to look up ORISON in the dictionary. New word for me. (means PRAYER, if you didn’t see my vocab post –> here <–.)
I did not care for Ms Sonmi-45; she lacked personality but I was amazed out the author’s ability to portray her like that. Or do you disagree? Does Sonmi have a personality; does she grow to have a personality? I actually wondered at times if she was a she.
WHAT ABOUT that birthmark? I swear it was in mentioned in the Adam Ewing section but I still haven’t found it. I tweeted to the #CloudAltas readalongers to watch and note pages. (which I can’t find now where I wrote these page numbers down. Get back to you? Is it even important?!)
p.85 “She plays with that birthmark in the hollow of my shoulder, the one you said resembles a comet – can’t abide the woman dabbling with my skin. – Zedelghem section.
ANYWAYS! I read somewhere that Mitchell even stated in an interview that the birthmark suggests that all these characters are reincarnations of the same soul!!!! or something like that. From my memory. (ever play ‘telephone’?) SO let me go see if I can find it.
Mitchell has said of the book: “All of the [leading] characters are reincarnations of the same soul … identified by a birthmark. … The “cloud” refers to the ever-changing manifestations of the “atlas”, which is the fixed human nature. … The book’s theme is predacity … individuals prey on individuals, groups on groups, nations on nations.” BBC Radio 4. 2007-06. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
I had to look up PREDACITY, too. Even if it is kinda easy to guess the meaning, but I think it is NEW to me:
HHHpre·da·cious also pre·da·ceous (pr-dshs) adj.
HHHHHH1. Living by seizing or taking prey; predatory.
HHHHHH2. Given to victimizing, plundering, or destroying for one’s own gain
Alright Friends and Readalongers! Discuss:
Are you enjoying it so far?
Can’t wait to begin the second ‘half’?
Fearful of reading more Adam Ewing?!
Picked up on any other themes or symbols?
The Sonmi section has some amazing wordplay, would you agree?
Are we having fun yet?
Was I really the only one to notice the birthmark thread in the stories before I read that quote above?
What else do you want to discuss that I should ask?
I must admit, I do love the twittering and encourage anyone to see my list and search hashtag #CloudAtlas, but do realize that we are not the only ones discussing the book so far. And let me know if you want to be on the list – I may not have realized you tweet? Sorry to miss anyone.
Oh! I’ll end with a share of favorite sentences encountered so far:
p.94 “Forgive me for flaunting my experience, but you have no conception of what a misspent life constitutes.”
p.168 “I elbowed my way into the grubby cafe, bought a pie that tasted of shoe polish and a pot of tea with cork crumbs floating in it, and eavesdropped on a pair of Shetland pony breeders. Despondency makes one hanker after lives one never led.”
p.60 “He whispers the verses as I recite, as if his voice is leaning on mine.”
p.159 “I want you to evolve problem-solving intelligence and sell me a ticket to Hull!”
p.64 “A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.”
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