Occasionally, I fall head over heels in love with a new writer. New to me, at least. It’s a different feeling than only falling in love with a book itself–this is a fizzy-euphoric-buzz-bang of knowing, ahhhh, a writer I will love forever and grow old with. It is the kind of passion that makes me search out reviews of the book I’ve just finished and then scream at the reviewer if they disagree with me over how brilliant and moving and astonishing the book is. (This is one of my favorite uses of book reviews, anyway.) It is the kind of passion that makes me write a blog.
When I finished The Bone Clocks, I was head over heels for David Mitchell. There it is. The merging in genres, the phenomenally distinctive voices, characters who made me miss them when I was done. It reminds me of Margaret Atwood’s stunning Madd Addam trilogy–I would also marry Margaret Atwood–in the sense that a) it is genius, and b) it manages to blend that genius, that sense of awe at its concept and architecture, with a real gut connection and emotional power.
The Bone Clocks the kind of book that I think is almost impossible to end well—so many threads, so hard to tie together. The bit I keep repeating to myself and to others is the breathtaking overlap of the fantasy thread—where eternal beings are reincarnated in different bodies—with the much more mundane but equally powerful real-life sections. After a book where we see the eternals—good and evil—hop from body to body and wage a supernatural war, we get a grandmother watching her granddaughter. She says “night night sleep tight” to the child, the same line she remembers her father saying to her when she was small. The same line she repeated to her daughter, who then repeated it to her own child.
“We live on,” the grandmother says, “as long as there are people to live on in.”
Still gives me chills.
And then I read Cloud Atlas, which was maybe so technically and intellectually amazing that it was not quite possible to feel it so powerfully in the gut.
Still, the man can write this line: “As many truths as men. Occasionally, I glimpse a truer Truth, hiding in imperfect simulacrums of itself, but as I approach, it bestirs itself and moves deeper into the thorny swamp of dissent.
And this line: “The sky is lemon blue.”
This one: “A trio of teenettes, dressed like Prostitute Barbie, approached.”
And this one: “We’d need a dammit diresome flashbang to get these off their hinges, yay.”
….all in the same book.