Monday, July 30, 2012


The book, 2004
The movie, 2012
These days when I go the local library, I peruse the "new" section, despair over the sorry periodical selections, pick an old magazine from the giveaway pile and leave otherwise emptyhanded.  The leading area library in Camp Hill, with its excellent facility, has a much larger "new" section full of just three types of offerings:  health/self-improvement, right-wing diatribes (every single one of the latest), and thriller mysteries.  Yawn.
Several years ago, I read a review of Daniel Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and actually found it a few months later in the library.  At that time I hadn't run out of finding books of interest, so I didn't think it was the last time this pleasing event would occur.  It seems now the ones you might be eager to read are regularly withdrawn and end up in the dumpster or at the periodic sales.  What circulates is the trash, and that is what remains on the shelves.
If you can't find it for loan, do get a copy on the internet.  It doesn't resonate with everybody, but if it is for you, you won't forget it any more than you can  A Catcher in the Rye.
The six stories span centuries from about 1850 to the future, and each is cut off halfway as the next one begins, until the last one, when the telling is completed in reverse order.  One reviewer compared the structure to playing the notes in a chord as an arpeggio.  Each is based on documents preserved (but teasingly only in part) through time, and each is told in its own vernacular style -- the 1850 diary entries, the beginning of it all, are filled with early Victorian words and expressions that will send you in search of a large unabridged dictionary.
Much like the new television series "Touch," the theme is the interconnectedness of everything.  I can't spoil it for you, but at the end it will become clear what the connection is.
The film version will open in October 2012, which may or may not be a good thing.  Despite their skills and attractiveness, or because of them, I'm not sure that stars Tom Hanks and Halle Berry won't overwhelm such a complex and subtle story.  In the end, though, film and theatrical treatments do not harm the originals, and often save them from obscurity (or the dumpster!).

Life's an enigma, my friend
So read on, read on,
The answer's at the end.

               --  Inscription at Friar Park estate, Henley-on-Thames


1 comment:

  1. A good book or movie or any story telling format will be descriptive enough to make you see it and draw you in with the discussions of the characters (must as life) and keep you in suspense til the end. The best surprising ending I ever heard was "I see dead people."