A review by megapolisomancy
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell


I just spent like an hour typing out all the things that irritated me about this book and goodreads lost it somehow? Fuck you, goodreads.


God damn it. I am literally angry with rage about this.

Ok, fine, it seems appropriate enough for this book to replace that lengthy review with a summary of it where you just have to trust me when I say that the first one was really witty and clever. Or, wait, I'm supposed to be self-deprecating here, right? That's what I learned from Mitchell. To wit, when a character in the second story describes the journal of the first story:

"Something shifty about the journal's authenticity-seems too structured for a genuine diary, and its language doesn't ring quite true-but who would bother forging such a journal, and why?"

Or publisher Timothy Cavendish of the 4th section:

"I disapprove of flashbacks, foreshadowings, and tricksy devices; they belong in the 1980s with M.A.s in postmodernism and chaos theory."

So, instead, um:

Gillan's review, which wasn't half as clever as he thought it was, totally missed the point of this glorious novel, instead giving him yet another chance to flaunt his smugly self-satisfied sense of superiority. Indeed, his insistence that it was nothing more than a collection of tenuously linked and largely forgettable short stories, rather than a novel, shows precisely his lack of appreciation for what he called this "pointless gimmick." His continual namedropping, moreover--of such non-classics as If On a Winter's Night a Traveler, Riddley Walker, House of Leaves, and the collected works of William Gibson, for example--also leaves his readers (if he even has any) uncomfortably aware of his inability to follow the brilliant chameleon-esque prose of David Mitchell, which truly speaks to the Human Condition and certainly never resorts to tricksy devices.

Anyway, to sum up: I thought everything about this book was perfectly mediocre, except the Cavendish and Rey chapters, which I actively loathed. The gimmick, moreover, would have been fine if the stories had any impact on one another to speak of, but... they didn't.

A perfectly irritating end to my engagement with this perfectly irritating book, leaving me with nothing but... meta-irritation? (I'm sorry for that joke, it isn't as good as the one I made in the first review wherein I was complaining about the resolution of the nonsensical Sonmi chapter and which revolved around a pun between plot/conspiracy and plot/narrative. Because in that story they were both nonsensical, and Mitchell used the one to excuse the other... you get it.)