Saturday, June 10, 2006

Black Swan Green

By David Mitchell

I knew Cloud Atlas would not be the last novel I would be reading of David Mitchell. Black Swan Green is his latest and is really quite different from Cloud Atlas, though there is a character from Cloud Atlas here too. Mitchell seems to love carrying forward characters from one book to another. A slightly endearing trait, I find.

BSG is a book much narrower in scope than Cloud Atlas. It is a simple narration of a 13 year old boy with a stammer and a skill for poetry. It traces a single year in the life of this boy Jason Taylor, the year of the Falklands war. Through him we live his life filled with all the angst of a pre-teen boy with a stammer in a school full of bullies. It does not help that he is a poet, a skill that is seen as so ‘gay’. And that his parents are in a relationship that is not so healthy and that his sister, who was a hated character till recently, is now going away to college.

It’s an uncomplicated tale of the complications in Jason’s 13th year. The Belgian émigré, the gypsies who come into town and the tangled emotions girls as a species generates allow for excitement in the boy’s life.

Through this straightforward narration, Mitchell manages to make Jason Taylor a fairly interesting character, parts of whom are recognizable in any 13 year old boy. BSG makes for a compelling read, mainly because of Jason Taylor’s wry and vibrant voice. I am sure to continue reading Mitchell.

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