Eccentric Musings (jakaEM)

"I have undergone sharp discipline which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than you would fancy." Emily Brontë


still figuring this place out - Jen W

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Friend of My Youth
Alice Munro
Progress: 115/288 pages
Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature
Margaret Atwood
Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell Count me among those who are blown away, moved, enraptured by this novel. It worked for me on at least six different levels: plot/narrative; structure; voice; theme; symbolic/linguistic; genre.

It worked in the grandest sense of its philosophy (its dismantling of the Nietzchean 'will to power' concept) and the plainest: it's damn fine story-tellin'!

In fact, I loved this novel so much that it's going on my "for the desert island" shelf. By which I mean, if stranded on a desert island (interesting resonance there), this is a book that will sustain me; keep me thinking; keep me interested on repeated readings.

Many others on goodreads have written fabulous reviews for this - I've liked a slew of them; sorry if I missed yours. I can't add much to them except to note that it's interesting which sections are pointed to as favourites. Me, I can't pick one - although Sonmi-451 was perhaps the most disturbing, and I'm not sure I've fully understood it. So that one scratches, scratches at me.

Here is one, overarching comment: the thing needs to be read as a whole (and in the order presented, breaks and all); none of these sections would stand up particularly well (I don't think?) on their own AND it needs to be broken down in its parts to the most micro-level to suck the true goodness out of its marrow.

And I mean down to the sentence, even word, level. The repetitions in symbols/objects and connections at the sentence-level were extraordinary; and fun! Did you play the same game I did, trying to spot them?

And then another layer: each section in the first half started with a fall; each in the second with an escape.

And then another: can we escape the fall?

It's a tapestry ... and it's a piece of music: themes appear and re-appear, threaded together by single notes, by motifs.

I see in it what motivated the movie. I see why the movie may have been crap (I don't know; I haven't seen it - but will). This novel is very visual, as well as visionary -- although I say that, and I'm not sure how original it really is, except again as viewed as the sum of its parts. It was published the year after [b:Oryx Crake|46756|Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam Trilogy, #1)|Margaret Atwood||3143431] and perhaps that reference is fresh for me thanks to Moira's recent reading/posting about it, but there are striking similarities (CorpSeCorps v. Neo So Copros - freaky, huh?). And then both of them, Cloud Atlas in particular, harken back to [b:A Canticle for Liebowitz|989239|A Canticle for Liebowitz|Walter M. Miller Jr.||250975]. Maybe that is the way of post-apoc dystopias. Even in the future, nothing is original. Hah!

Cloud Atlas begs to be understood by being taken out of its element and plopped into a new one. Or maybe not for the understanding so much as the experience - that Matryoshka doll thing. The genres are one thing, but I'd like to see a sextet of translations of the novel into other artforms entirely, aside from film: musical (of course); the aforesaid tapestry; a painting; a play (?); a poem; would sculpture work?

And then all of those artforms would be presented as one piece of performance art, delivered in a marathon 12 hours.

Two hundred years to grow; two hundred years to live; two hundred years to die. The idea of growth, life, death in an endless cycle. Cowardice and courage and choices. Rises and falls. Entrapment and escape. Damnation and salvation and states of limbo in between.

This novel is in 6/8 time.

"It ain't savages what are stronger'n Civ'lizeds, Meronym reck'ned, it's big numbers what're stronger'n small numbers. Smart gived us a plus for many years, like my shooter gived me a plus back at Slopin' Pond, but with 'nuff hands'n'minds that plus'll be zeroed one day."

This is the first read, the taking-in of it all, the macro-micro view that skips details.

I'll be back after the next one.