it was [b:Cloud Atlas|49628|Cloud Atlas|David Mitchell|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1344305390s/49628.jpg|1871423] that brought me to Goodreads. hey, face it, it's 2013 and if you haven't received at least 20 'social invites' to 'the next Facebook,' probably you need to start working the Rolodex a bit. I had an early on Gmail, a Beta on Wave (remember that?!), and an almost early on Pinterest, and of course, all of us had Betas or Alphas on Flickr (it's still Gamma, right?).
but, December 2012, history was wrot, right? started chatting with a few of the Mitchell acolytes, and zoom-- suddenly I *got it* why this site's awesome is double plus. yeah sure, dozens of people are joining today and will never log on again; the international divide between national viewpoints actually limits some of the back-and-forth that goes on; and half of the process is discovering who loves to lurk and who is gunning for free reads. I can't get a free read, I don't have a forwarding address!
well anyways... for those who have been hiding underneath a literary rock for the past two years, David Mitchell is the literary rock-star / cross-appeal scribbling / sensation who did the Wachowski film. the 'new genre' of the truly linked / cross-global crossing Ghost and Atlas stands as superb literary achievement. maybe Number9dream was a weak spot, and perhaps Michiko Kakutani's breathless review of Thousand Autumns was a little misplaced. but there you go again Mitchell, hitting back with a 5, evoking what lesser authors can only sustain briefly, breaking down the politics-personal-familiar all over again, and hitting rock solid with this true master's slammer.
Black Swan Green is about young teenage anarchy. some other reviewers have pointed out that there have been other authors in this field, but seeing as my reading in the topic is limited (umm, Lord of the Flies?), I can't help but compare Mitchell to Ray Bradbury. If Bradbury's boys are collecting marbles and running through endless green meadows, Mitchell's are ruthlessly coalition-forming and -breaking. they're at risk of early death, of drug-addiction. they're 13. yet in contrast to the standard tears-and-ghettoes piece of Mancunian or Scouser output, Mitchell's work works because it's balanced. Mitchell's authorial avatar isn't completely stuck at the bottom of heap -- he has poetry and a responsible adult trying to cultivate it, he is intelligent and more or less fit; but he's not quite at the level of public school where 'not being posh enough' is the social sin. the narrator isn't completely helpless but he isn't totally free from real danger. politics or wars don't intrude until they do. economics is underlying much of what goes on, but never over-played.
I'll give the 5 here without reservation, as I might not have with the book I coread this with, Jonathan Lethem's [b:As She Crawled Across the Table]. very interesting little juxtaposition, the pure idea/Huckabees piece and the little rotter world of Mitchell's 13-year-old merciless devils, but, one has to salute this work. one really does.