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Help me to persevere with Cloud Atlas!

(85 Posts)
ipredicttrouble Sat 28-Sep-13 14:40:38

A number of friends have recommended this book so decided to start it this week. But, man, I'm struggling with it. Give me some positive words to inspire me to keep reading!

MarjorieAntrobus Sun 29-Sep-13 04:08:21

Thanks, Cote, for the link to your thread. Your interpretation is impressive and thought-provoking. The film mainly picked up on the reincarnation thread, but then there's only so much that can be explored in a two-hour film I suppose. One day I shall re-read the book with your notes to hand. Thanks.

BelleOfTheBorstal Sun 29-Sep-13 04:23:14

Dream Number 9 is a far better book by the same author. Sadly it missed the acclaim that Cloud Atlas recieved.
Read that instead, it will be time much better spent.

HmmAnOxfordComma Sun 29-Sep-13 09:44:41

I love Cloud Atlas. Must reread one day with Cote's notes to hand.

BUT: Not only is not every book for everybody, but I also feel quite strongly that time and place can be relevant to whether you really get or enjoy something or not.

I often put books down or leave them these days - life's too short and there are millions of other books out there: you would never have enough time to read everything you 'should' read if you did nothing else all day and night.

I had an awful and worrying time last year with dh's health and read some chick lit for the first time in my life - couldn't focus on anything clever or worthy at all. Luckily his health and my reading taste have both recovered a little!

Trills Sun 29-Sep-13 09:46:04

If you're only very near the beginning and the style of the story is not for you then you can reassure yourself that it's only 1/6 of the book, and the rest is in other styles.

CoteDAzur Sun 29-Sep-13 09:59:59

Marjorie - Reincarnation was not an important part of the book, imho. There was only the comet birthmark that was mentioned a few times (not in the first story, afaik - because it was the villain Dr HG who was the one later reincarnated?). Also, a few flashbacks like Luisa "remembering" the castle of Zedelghem when she was reading Frobisher's letters. That was it.

I watched the film and while it was visually impressive in places, I thought it didn't manage to translate the film's essence to the screen. And the silly make-up/costume changes to "reincarnate" the same actors in every story were very distracting.

And of course it had to give the film a happy Hollywood ending which is of course not how the book ends.

soimpressed Sun 29-Sep-13 10:11:44

Cote Thanks so much for your analysis! I'm reading Cloud Atlas at the moment and have picked up on some of the themes you mention. I enjoyed the first half of the book but found some of the stories in the second half less engaging.

Tabby1963 Sun 29-Sep-13 11:32:57

CoteDAzur, thank you for writing such a detailed analysis of CA and for linking it to this discussion.

LittleRobots Sun 29-Sep-13 11:39:43

I thought it was fantastic! Our book club read it but it got a mixed reaction and I was so disappointed as I was really looking forwards to discussing the themes.

I particularly liked how he explored the 'power relations' and social interactions depending on class or status. That seemed to be the major theme for me as it was explored within each chapter. Also the idea of knowledge and truth - who has it, who has access to it. I'd love to think through the themes more coherently, it would make an ace book for study.

I'm going to read cote's review this evening when I have time to sit and read properly (and quite looking forwards to it!).

CoteDAzur Sun 29-Sep-13 11:51:47

I'm glad you find that thread helpful smile

LittleRobots - I would be very interested to hear what you think about CA's themes.

bunnybing Sun 29-Sep-13 21:08:15

The first chunk set on the ship in the 19th century is the hardest to read imo - if you get over that it does get easier.

PacificDogwood Sun 29-Sep-13 21:11:33

Belle, your comment on this thread has just 'made me' order Number9Dream grin there goes the window cleaning I was planning for tomorrow

Hayleyh34 Sun 29-Sep-13 21:13:02

I have an English Lit degree and thought it was utter drivel grin

CoteDAzur Sun 29-Sep-13 21:29:02

I guess it's true that degrees don't guarantee professional success grin

PacificDogwood Sun 29-Sep-13 21:32:18

Really, Hayley? In what way?
I am genuinely interested

Hayleyh34 Sun 29-Sep-13 22:08:46

In my opinion it was really clunky and as if the author couldn't decide what type of novel to write. I found it tiresome to read. I had 3 years of having to read chosen text and I would choose any of those over this. More hype than substance for me - a complicated book doesn't equal a great one

Hayleyh34 Sun 29-Sep-13 22:11:14

To add to this - my top two books are both really simple but really well written books. I think the truly great authors have a simple style because they have the confidence to do so

PacificDogwood Sun 29-Sep-13 22:13:37

Thanks, Hayley.
I see what you mean but don't agree - I loved all the connections between the seperate books and how the writing style fit the aera.
What are your top two books? <nosey>

maillotjaune Sun 29-Sep-13 22:36:26

Stick with it for a couple of stories at least, it might just be the first one. I loved it - still remember my confusion at the end of the first tale though as I knew nothing about the book and hadn't realised what the structure was.

EBearhug Sun 29-Sep-13 22:45:07

I really liked the idea of it, the nested stories. I have friends who think it's one of the most amazing books ever.

I got to the end, but I won't be rushing to read another book of his.

CoteDAzur Sun 29-Sep-13 22:59:15

"as if the author couldn't decide what type of novel to write"

I dare say the change in styles is intentional. Each story is a personal account. It is very normal that they would be written in the style of their times. In fact, it would be implausible for the memoir of a guy from 1800s to not sound like Joseph Conrad.

Not to trump your Lit degree or anything grin but my Cambridge-educated writer friend says that it is incredibly difficult for a writer to write in different styles, and that what David Mitchell pulled off with apparent ease in Cloud Atlas is very impressive.

Yes, it is difficult to read but also very rewarding. I like difficult books and thoroughly enjoyed following the threads that connected the stories and the stories that echoed through the ages.

I guess it wasn't your cup of tea, but it certainly wasn't "drivel". I'm actually surprised that someone with a Lit background would say that, regardless of how simple you like your books.

Hayleyh34 Mon 30-Sep-13 07:09:47

Of course the style was intentional Cote, I was just explaining why I didn't like it.

I don't understand why I can't use the word drivel, degree or no degree!

Hayleyh34 Mon 30-Sep-13 07:09:49

Of course the style was intentional Cote, I was just explaining why I didn't like it.

I don't understand why I can't use the word drivel, degree or no degree!

CoteDAzur Mon 30-Sep-13 11:13:06

I'm not banning you from the use of the word "drivel", just pointing out that "silly nonsense" is not an appropriate way to describe a book that actually makes a lot of sense and which is being studied at A-Levels all the way to PhD level.

Did you read that thread I linked to? That is what I have managed to get out of this book, although the last time I studied English literature was at the age of 18 (decades ago). It would be interesting to have your thoughts on my notes.

Hayleyh34 Mon 30-Sep-13 11:23:32

I think that's the point though, to me it was nonsense. I'm afraid that I'm in the camp that just didn't get it and found it very difficult to read.

Reading back my comments, I can see that mentioning my degree made it look like I was trying to be superior and I feel that's got your back up a bit. Many apologies, it wasn't meant to

CoteDAzur Mon 30-Sep-13 11:42:23

My back is not up at all smile

"To me it was nonsense" doesn't mean anything, really. Either something is nonsense (i.e. nobody can understand what it's talking about) or it does make sense (but you didn't get it).

As someone who has studied literature at university level, I would have expected you to get it and get it better than laymen like myself. Would you take a look at the link below and say if you got any of that, at least?

What are your two favourite (simple) novels? Someone asked below but you didn't answer.

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