Tag Archives: Cloud Atlas

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


Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Cloud Atlas First Discussion

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.”[2] 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.”


Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Some Words of Cloud Atlas

It’s CARE-VOCABULARY TIME.  (Go ahead and express your excitement. I know you wanna.)

 I am taking notes. (and this is just the first 39 pages!)

Part ONE:  Let’s play MATCH, shall we?  This shouldn’t be too hard for all you erudite friends who all read this blog; I seem to look up these words a lot, over and over and over. The definitions just don’t seem to stick in my brain!  When I look ’em up, I see the meaning and (*slapforehead*) say to myself, “I know that.”

A. DINT                                                     1. dark green, a form of jade

B. HARRIDAN                                        2. a prayer

C. PARVENU                                           3. devoid of hair

D. HUGGER-MUGGER                        4. suitable

E. NEPHRITE                            5. a person new to wealth and without class

F. CONDIGN                                                6.  dung, filth, manure

G. ESCRITOIRE                                          7. head or brain

H. NODDLE                                     8. a strict, bossy, or belligerent old woman

I. ORISON                                                 9. writing desk

J. GLABROUS                                         10.  force; power

K. ORDURE                                             11.  disorder or confusion

I mean, sure. NODDLE was EASY to figure out by its context but it still seemed new and fresh and odd and a varietal of NOODLE. Or a typo. Escritoire and orison are TOTALLY new to me. I am positive I have looked up PARVENU a million times… sigh. Give me a million dollars and I can be a parvenu.

Fun story:  Last week, I got to ‘play’ librarian at the High School. I do not mean to be disrespectful but I had fun, thus ‘play’. I had just started reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell and had encountered hugger-mugger* at the time when a couple of sophomores signed in. I do have a tendency to chat with library patrons and asked one of the nice girls if she would be willing to look up a word for me since she was on the side of the counter that had the BIG DICTIONARY**. She obliged me. In only a few page turns (the girl knew her alphabet), she read aloud the definition and I thought up an example that she might relate to and she assured me she ‘GOT it’.  She promised me she would use it in a sentence that day. I felt convinced she actually meant it. I made a difference in a young student’s life. Or, David Mitchell did and I was the conduit!  Yep, I’m a geek. Wave your hand if you’re a geek, too.

I was very happy and relieved that I didn’t ask the next kid to look up ONANISM.  *EYEPOP*  (yea, pretty sure I’ve looked that one up a time or two. or not.)

PART TWO: the rest of the words…***

p.4 – peregrinations – travels, journey

p.5 – polymath – person of great learning in several fields of study. (noted because I had recently looked it up so I KNEW IT!)

p.6 – circumvallated – a variety I was unaware of for circumnavigated? – surrounded by

p.8 – sheog – CAN’t FIND THIS ONE.  assume ‘grog’, moonshine, … (from context.)  [Just asked Twitterville how to deal with this and got crickets. Twitter can be hit or miss…]

p.8 – obdurate – stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.

p.8 – demotic**** – of common folk, makes sense if you think of democracy which I didn’t until I read the definition.

p.8 – thitherwards – This one is just fun to say. 

p.9 – tatterdemalion – tattered: worn to shreds; or wearing torn or ragged clothing

p.10 – appellate – AS a VERB? – I get it but can’t quite grasp this one with how it was used: “the islanders thus appellate New Zealand”.

p.10 – dint

p.11 – hugger-mugger

p.11 – terraqueous – I just like the imagery of this word

p.11 – parlor – enclosure to raise domestic pigs? “…willfully marooned pigs here to propagate a parlor.”

p.12 – mmmmmmmmmm[this page had no words requiring me to write down. WHA?!]

p.13 – parvenu

p.13 – penurious – stingy, lacking resources. (sigh, I (should) KNOW THIS!)

p.14 – ordure

p.16 – extirpation – to rid completely (why not use exterminate?  I don’t know…)

p.17 – simulcrums – unreal likeness

p.30 – scrofula – lung disease

p.31 – condign

p.32 – mal de mer – French word for seasickness

THUS concludes vocab from the first SECTION:  The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing. 

(Noddle, Glabrous, Escritoire were from the second section but I’m tired of typing. Orison is from the fourth section, I believe and we saw Ordure again on page 202, FYI.)

Highlight the following for the answers to Part ONE:

A – 10, B – 8, C – 5, D – 11, E – 1, F – 4, G – 9, H – 7, I – 2, J – 3, K – 6

Was this fun?  Do you have a favorite word from this list?  Did you learn anything?

Half-Way Point to page 236 of Cloud Atlas Readalong scheduled for March 16, Friday – plenty of time to join in!   Visit Melissa’s signup post for more information.  OH! and don’t let this list intimidate you!  The first part is written hundreds of years ago when they talked funny!!  The second section was delightful (imo) and it’s just a wild ride so far…

* hugger-mugger – fun! I love this phrase. Makes me wonder how exactly it ever came to be. I would have loved to be an linguist. But at the age of 18 when you are looking at majors to major in in college, this did not look very financially appealing. Stupid me.

** The BIG DICTIONARY is the COOLEST thing.

*** All page numbers reference the Tradeback edition, ISBN 978-0-375-50725-0. YOU STILL HAVE TIME! We are reading ~15 pages a day this month of March and will have a HALFWAY-POINT post here at Care’s Online Book Club on Friday March 16. Do know that I will not be checking in that day until late afternoon because I am subbing for my favorite English teacher at the local High School and she is only my favorite because I know her the best. I do like all of the English teachers I have met and chatted with and have seen-in-action. Just sayin’.  

*** demotic – My FAVORITE new word of the book. Doesn’t it sound evil?! and it is not.



Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Cloud Atlas Readalong Announcement

Melissa of Avid Reader and I are hosting a Readalong of CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell. Join us?
Just click her name and you will be directed to the Mr.Linky signup.
We are ORGANIZED!! The first check in (pages 1-236) will be on March 17th HERE at Care’s Online Book Club and the second/final check in will be on March 31st over at Avid Reader.
You know you wanna. The book is on the list of 1001 books you must read before you die! And it also qualifies for the What’s in a Name 5 Challenge for the “something you’d see in the sky” category. It was nominated for the Man Booker in 2004 and the Arthur C. Clarke Award and WON the National Book Critics Circle Award (Fiction). I realize it has over 500 pages but only just barely so it’s on the shorter side of the chunkster scale and a lot of people seem to have enjoyed it.

Newsweek called it “… a wild, wonderful ride.

Here’s what the goodreads.com page for Cloud Atlas has to say:
From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer and one of the featured authors in Granta’s “Best of Young British Novelists 2003” issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope. ✫ A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation — the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small. ✫ In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’ s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.
YIPPEE!! Should be fun.
Tell everyone and post with our cool button:


Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.