The third of David Mitchell’s books that I’ve read and again it’s different from the last one. The book is split across several different interlinking stories, cleverly worked together to ensure that, whether you are reading a story within a story, reading a myth recanted, or reading the mis-adventures of some of the characters you are always engrossed. And that to me is the key to Mitchell’s writing.
From the opening stanza to the final page you are pulled into the worlds he creates effortlessly, and you soon forget the previous part of the story as you are pulled rapidly into the new one. This is not to say that the book feels like it’s made of parts, or in anyway spoils the flow of the novel (aside from the unsettling mid-sentence ending of the first section), but once you settle into the style it enhances it and as you progress it makes continually more sense.
The easiest way to describe this book, rather than cover each story within, is to imagine a set of novels split in two. The opening section and final section are comprised of the diary of an American lawyer in the Pacific, the next and penultimate sections deal with a rogue genius composer… and so on, with each story being opened and closed and “book ending” the novel. Clever and well worked, which is just as well as occasionally it does feel like it’s a tad too concocted to make the pieces fit.
It’s a fairly unique piece of work, if you enjoyed his novel Ghostwritten you’ll enjoy this, but if you’ve never read any of his work then give it a bash.