instant cult classic
, generating some of the most heated discussions on Goodreads.com of any book; now a motion-picture by Lana and Andy Wachowski (Matrix).
Six nested-novellas, wherein characters turn out to be reading / otherwise involved with plots of the other periods, ranging from 19th century South Pacific to far-future dystopias. Riff on [a:Yukio Mishima|35258|Yukio Mishima|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1213653898p2/35258.jpg]'s final work before he killed himself, [b:Sea of Fertility|171087|The Sea of Fertility|Yukio Mishima|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1318520725s/171087.jpg|15067059] tetralogy, with whispers of reincarnation / eternal recurrence/ good vs. evil throughout the ages. Meditation on power vs. civilization, fate vs. free will, spirit vs. material. Personality vs. text, how language shapes thought; morality vs. science.
1 1880s - South Pacific, civilized sailor meets savages, eccentrics
2 1920s - epistaltory novel between two Cambridge students, re: composer France
3 1970s - thriller/airport novel; big oil fights big nuclear, one hot shot investigative reporter gets in deep
4 present day - elderly man confined to ruthless old age house by evil heirs or creditors
5 near-future - 'Neo So Corpos'; fascist neo-Korean state with joy-joy burgers
6 far-future - Ha Why
Mesmerizing and hypnotic, absolute first-class work 5/5
further comments: apparently it works because each view of the society informs each one, as in Ghostwritten. from 1970s focus on social reform and idealism about 'changing the world,' we proceed to the present day, where all the Western democracies/Japan are aging societies and concerns of aging are paramount. then, when we get to near-future and far-future, there is the undercurrent that North/South Korea will rise as the next big civilization, followed by, of course, Ha Why-- postapocalyptic hawaii... so a portrait of the world viewpoint from western civilization rather than just "linked stories" in the vein of Jhumpa Lahiri or whoever.
February 7, 2013; weeks later, I'm still rereading bits and pieces of the Cloud Atlas. Mitchell is amazing.