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Tony Grist

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The Bone Clocks: David Mitchell [Feb. 2nd, 2016|02:13 pm]
Tony Grist
David Mitchell writes short stories and then interweaves them so they turn into novels- and now it's apparent- seven books in- that he's also interweaving all his novels so they'll turn into a comedie humaine- covering not just one society (as with Balzac) but the whole of the planet and the entire history of civilisation. This is an admirable thing to be doing and fun for the reader- who has the pleasure- on a par with crossword puzzling or sudoku- of working out how the parts fit together- and spotting characters that have turned up elsewhere in the oeuvre.

When the whole construction is finally assembled- which may be never- because who can predict when death will come calling or inspiration fail?- The Bone Clocks is going to be seen as the keystone of the arch. It's here that Mitchell finally gets to explain in some detail how reincarnation and functional immortality- concepts which structure his fiction (when characters recur they may not always do so in the same body)- actually work in this universe of his. This is a dangerous thing to be doing for two reasons- firstly because he risks boring or annoying his reader-something he avoids by mixing in some high-octane, cinematically-styled, paranormal action- and secondly because there's the danger that a mystery which looks deep when only hinted at may seem a little trite when fully exploded- and this he hasn't entirely manage to dodge. If Balzac is his competition- and what seriously ambitious novelist wouldn't want to go mano a mano with Balzac?- then the Frenchman- in Seraphina- is the greater, more instinctive, better informed metaphysician. On the other hand, Balzac has fewer explosions and paranormal light sabre duels.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2016-02-02 04:30 pm (UTC)
Just arrived as part of an Amazon order. Can't wait!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-02-02 05:54 pm (UTC)
I've read all his novels (apart from the most recent- which I'm planning to buy) so I must like him, mustn't I?
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[User Picture]From: huskyteer
2016-02-02 06:15 pm (UTC)
Ha, that's very much how I feel. Though I'm not entirely sure I liked Jacob de Zoet.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-02-02 06:56 pm (UTC)
I think de Zoet is my favourite.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2016-02-02 05:40 pm (UTC)
I have this book but yet to read it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-02-02 05:54 pm (UTC)
I think you'll find it worth your time.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2016-02-02 05:56 pm (UTC)
Well, i totally enjoyed Cloud Atlas, so hopefully i will.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-02-02 06:14 pm (UTC)
It's very much the same sort of thing.
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[User Picture]From: porsupah
2016-02-02 08:19 pm (UTC)
Being the uncultured leporine that I am, my thoughts turned first to a certain comedian, of whom I wouldn't actually be surprised to learn as much. I then realised the individual you meant also wrote Cloud Atlas, which adaptation by the Wachowskis I adore - such a magnificent sense of scale and scope, such humanity and compassion (and brutality and callousness)! It could hardly fare well at the box office, but it seems to have redeemed itself in the eyes of the studio executives since then.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-02-02 09:10 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen the movie but I have read the book- which has just the same scale and scope.

This book has it too. Mitchell is a writer who thinks big.
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