November 27, 2004

A Book to Recommend

Rory Blyth is afraid of running out of authors to read.
"When I find an author I love, I'll read everything by that author, but I'll intentionally drag on the last book. I'm especially bad about this when I know that the author is dead. It's the knowledge that this author will never produce another work that causes me to slow myself down, savoring the last few bits I'll be able to extract from the author's gray matter by means of words on a page.

I've been through this with a few authors so far: Oscar Wilde, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, John Wyndham, and many more.

I'm hitting a stage now where I feel like I'm about to run out of authors again."

As soon as I saw this plea in Rory's blog, I remembered my latest favorite book, and I've recommended it to him and now to you. I picked up David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas: A Novel last September at the airport in Singapore, and finished it weeks later on the way to New Zealand. Those trips gave the book an extra relevance for me, as four of its six loosely linked stories take place around the Pacific. The book straddles a thousand years, starting near New Zealand in colonial times and ending up in a post-apocalyptic Hawaii centuries from now. The cleverness of the writing and architecture of the book just floored me, but what sticks with me is the bigger story it tells about the powerful and the powerless and the dubious idea of progress. I highly recommend it for any upcoming quiet reading time the holidays might bring.

Mitchell has written two other books, and I'm going to read them both.

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