Monday, August 27, 2012

Cloud Atlas Discussion Sections 3 & 4

I'm reading Cloud Atlas with Jessica, Iris, and Zibilee right now which makes me feel quite lucky to be in the company of three such fantastic bloggers. Basically what happened is that the Cloud Atlas trailer was released and Iris and I decided we needed to read the book and Jessica and Zibilee joined in and it's a great big party. This isn't an official readalong, but we're reading two sections a week so you are certainly welcome to join in our discussions if you like, though we are now close to two hundred pages in. This post will contain spoilers for the first four sections, but I ask that if you've already the book you don't spoil me for anything past that in comments.

Jessica wrote a great post of introduction to the book last week, which is certainly unusual and a little complicated. I have to admit I was sort of hating my life while reading the first section because the prose was so dense and had lots of unusual spellings and words I have never laid eyes on before in my life. But once I powered through, I found the second section friendlier. And as luck would have it, I'm actually genuinely enjoying the book now!

The third section is Half-Lives: The First Luisa Rey Mystery and has probably been my favorite section so far. (which is funny considering the way the narrator of the next section characterizes it) This is probably easily explained by having a female protagonist for the section, but also following the kind of story I enjoy--it's more of a mystery and action thriller...Luisa is a reporter who uncovers through lucky circumstance a very big scoop--a huge conspiracy theory--and works to gain substantial facts at great risk to herself. Oh and also it takes place in the United States, so that might influence me, too, I don't know.

I was bummed Rufus Sixsmith ended up getting killed, but I really liked the way this section tied to the previous one...Rufus was Frobrisher's correspondent! And now that I'm realizing that every section of this book is in itself a book that will be treated as a text in the narrative, I'm...I don't know I find that a really interesting concept. I don't like to know a lot about books before I read them because I hate being spoiled or having feelings about things already so that's why I didn't already know this.

Also the idea of reincarnation was introduced rather strongly in Luisa's narrative, she had the same birthmark as Frobrisher? And also Rufus mentioned that he felt like he'd known her for ages. So...I understood that correctly right?

The fourth section is The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish and I have to admit a few parts of this were amusing. First of all, Timothy Cavendish is a vanity publisher. The whole part about the critic and his author was funny to me even if it was mostly horrible? I mean Hoggins ended up murdering Sir Felix Finch for his awful review, the only review he received for his memoir. And it was over the top terrible criticism like that he needed to apologize to the paper the book had printed on. Killing a critic like that must be a fantasy for some authors?

But another unfortunate thing happened in this section which is that Mitchell rediscovered his huge vocabulary. Even though this section is actually much more modern, I still felt frustrated by the prose and vocabulary. Not nearly to the extent of the first section, but it was less readable to me than Luisa Rey's section. And it's little wonder since Cavendish is writing his memoir, but looks over the Half-Lives manuscript and considers it to be rubbish essentially.

Was I supposed to know he was going to end up in a nursing home? I was really taken off guard by that!

I will say this...I think it's absolutely amazing how very distinct each section of this book has been thus far. The tone, style of writing,'s all incredibly unique. I mean it's believable that these are different books. I'm not sure how many authors could actually pull that off. I'm really looking forward to continuing on with it!

Now I'm hoping that Jessica, Iris, and Zibilee will have some deep thoughts for us :)


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