two questions are burning in my mind, a few hours after completing Thousand Autumns. the first is:
#1 if an author has written something (or better yet two books) that are truly amazing; that will be on your bookshelf for life; that still inspires thought months after completion, should we therefore always give a little "halo effect" glow to everything else they write?
#2 how important is it to point out the circumstances of acquiring a book? if I flew into Incheon, Korea for a week, and located one of two english-language bookstores in Itaewon, does it matter that Black Swan Green was 19000 won (=$20, 14 GBP) but that for some reason Thousand Autumns was available in hardcover, literary softcover and trade paperback editions? and that the last was only 9300 won, or cheaper than the ebook? a questions to grapple with, and one supposes, unanswerable. who to know?
well, I guess I'm babbling. and I guess this apropos of nothing picture, this historical miniature is sort of unnecessary. and perhaps it isn't the most important thing, but maybe it is to note that the New Yorker, New York Times (Michiko Kakutani), and some other major publication all raved about this book; Kirkus and Publisher's Weekly loved it; in short, Mitchell is establishment ! yes, maybe this isn't so much babble after all: this is it, Mitchell is establishment. he goes establishment, he writes an establishment book, and he indulges himself. but that's a little harsh.
well, Thousand Autumns is competent, even-handed, skillful historical fiction
. but although I really recommend/loved his experimental works Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas, I can't help but compare this work to [b:Shogun|12319459|Shogun Volume 2|James Clavell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1314833290s/12319459.jpg|14634506]. Shogun was multi-million platinum best-seller and action, launched a thousand east asian studies majors. THousand Autumns was a little less awe-inspiring, but it's mature work; it isn't terrible.
we see Mitchell's fascination with verbal-based imprisoned-females (xulation, anyone?) motif; we see the idea of wandering into a cave to possibly meet a religion, but somewhere out of this mix is a true-to-life historical work-- and a sort of peek into a writer's experience that the work that takes years to research (Mitchell apparently comments that certain individual lines took weeks to confirm; did people use shaving cream in 1799?) isn't necessarily the most outstanding or perfect.
anyway I guess I will revisit this review shortly... but for now, a solid high 3. i can hear an argument for 3.7
work suffers in comparison to [b:Shogun|12319459|Shogun Volume 2|James Clavell|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1314833290s/12319459.jpg|14634506]. movements of tens of thousands of samurai just inherently interesting. where are the thousand-soldier armies in this book?