Cloud AtlasBook |
An unabashedly ambitious tale.
Cloud Atlas is a gorgeously crafted work of fiction comprised of six nested stories, each with its own setting, genre, and narrative format. Sure, the structure is precocious, but the book delivers on almost every level. Let's begin with the basics: Cloud Atlas consists of a 19th-century seafarer's journal; a series of letters written by a delightfully contrarian, down-on-his-luck composer living in Belgium in the 1930s; a journalistic thriller; a farcical memoir; a futuristic dystopia captured in the form of a confession; and a post-apocalyptic yarn narrated in dialect. David Mitchell's ear for voice and characterization is breathtaking, as he channels Melville, Waugh, Huxley, and innumerable others. The links between stories, though tenuous even in the most obvious cases, are placed subtly enough that discovering them brings a little Nabokovian thrill. There are mythic, poignant, and transcendental moments to spare, each a masterful display of compelling storytelling and crafted postmodernism.