Asia-Pacific indie bookstores are flogging David Mitchell pretty hard these days, and rightly so, with the 2012 film-adaptation of [b:Cloud Atlas|49628|Cloud Atlas|David Mitchell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344305390s/49628.jpg|1871423] by the Wachowski brothers, Mitchell's career is finally catching fire. This brings the opportunity to look all the way back to 1999, Mitchell's debut work Ghostwritten, written while the English author was still a technical English teacher in Hiroshima, Japan.
Like Cloud Atlas, Ghostwritten is a nested series of stories, each interplaying off the other in small and obvious ways, resulting ultimately in the presentation of an ethos rather than a philosophy, a meditation on comparative culture rather than the pure Babel (2006) gimmick, a series of affects rather than deep probing of human lifetimes against the passing of decades.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperlink_cinemaGhostwritten is an important debut, stylistically minimalist and bold in execution.
Criticism here on the GR website tends to be of the "anybody can hire five different people to write five short stories, and all these 'alternative' connections can be spotted,' but of course that's a cheap blow, Mitchell is saying something about cultures, about economic realities, about different social realities, and different value systems. It isn't just juxtaposition of 'English middle-class office manager' and 'Japanese record store owner,' although the Haruki Murakami references and Beatles undertones are there. The work functions because of where it eventually ends up; and that is, as with Cloud Atlas, a sort of predominition and vision of where the world is going, whether apocalypse or American-led continual brushfire warfighting.
With the weaker 'number9dream' and then the return to straight narratives in his more recent works, Mitchell's career is hard to read. Some signs suggest Cloud Atlas is his major output, but personally, this reviewer would gladly put down $50 for another 'split/linked cross-cultural' piece. Considering reviewer laid down 3.99 for [b:Merle's Door|430968|Merle's Door Lessons from a Freethinking Dog|Ted Kerasote|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1310704047s/430968.jpg|1771214] because of the price, that's about as high as praise as he cares to deliver, with his ruthless knowledge of the dollar-for-word-count markets, and [ghost?] writer's contracts.
5/5 stars for an author finally getting his big break-- and take note of the high review/rating ratio of this author-- rather than the typical 1/10, Mitchell is getting 1 review for every 5 ratings--the sign of the author's eliciting
strong reactions out of his educated, erudite readership.