Friday, May 26, 2006
By David Mitchell
A riveting read. My first David Mitchell and this will definitely not be my last. What strikes me when I read him is how comfortable Mitchell is in so many different worlds. The book is a series of 6 different but strangely interconnected stories set in different geographies and different times, varing from the Pacific Islands in the 19th century to Europe in the early 20th, to a Reagan-era California to a 21st century middle America, a clone-era somewhere in the future and an even further future after the fall of civilization. The connections between the stories are tenuous - there is a strange birthmark that travels across characters and diaries and manuscripts of one character from one time period are found by characters in other periods. Most of the narrative is in first person and that is what makes it so amazing. Mitchell manages to get the differences in language and narrative patterns between the different worlds down so pat - the early 20th century Englishman, the clone's fumbling learning of the language and the back-to-nature native's rythmic tone. All so different and yet sounding so authentic. Borders on brilliant, in my opinion. The book is almost an un-put-downable read. There is something of the mystery in it and the thriller. One of the best reviews I have read is by AS Byatt, featured in The Guardian.