*On a related note, as way of explaining why this movie’s such a big deal to me:
A few months ago I decided that I would re-read all of David Mitchell’s books – see kids, Cloud Atlas was once what they called a “book!” Why, with all the books piling up in my home, office, and car, would I go back and re-read five unproven, not-as-yet classics as these? Foolish behavior, right? Anthony Doerr wrote a great piece in the Boston Globe a few months back on the dizzying amount of books we think we will read in our lives:
Have you ever done the math? If you’re lucky enough to have 70 years of literate adulthood, and if you read one book every week, you’re still only going to get to 3,640 books. Then you die.
So why ignore the math? Because, on a balmy summer night at Los Angeles’ Skylight Books back in 2010, I heard Mitchell speak about his fifth novel, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. And this is the sort of thing he talked about, causing me to crap my nerd-pants a little:
“I’ve come to realize that I’m bringing into being a fictional universe with its own cast, and that each of my books is one chapter in a sort of sprawling macronovel. That’s my life’s work, for however long my life lasts. Of course, it’s important that each of the books works as a stand-alone, so that readers don’t have to read everything else I’ve written to make sense of the novel in their hands. But I write each novel with an eye on the bigger picture, and how the parts fit into the whole.” (From the NYT Magazine, June 2010)
|Dog-eared, annotated, loved.|
In his Skylight talk, (which you can find here, at their podcast site) Mitchell said that he looks at each of his books as “sort of chapters in an übernovel or a hypernovel.” He also referred to “hyperlinks” between books in the form of recurring characters – the sort of thing that makes my head explode – so I wanted to go back and re-read all of his books, in the order he wrote them, to try and follow as many of those hyperlinks as I could. I really wanted to see if I could view all five books (to date) as one long, continuous narrative – as the author views things. Besides, I couldn’t decide on what to read that day and figured it was as good a time as any to do this.
So, I did. Back in May I read all the books again and tracked the hyperlinks, taking meticulous notes, writing down every character name for cross-referencing – all with the plan to somehow write my discoveries into a series of blog posts. Well, that hasn’t happened, obviously, and now this whole trailer thing broke, so I figured I’d just talk about that. A sloppy, stream-of-consciousness post, to be sure.
I guess that what I’m saying is that if the trailer for this film looks at all interesting to you, do yourself a favor and read the book first. Just read the book!! However well the filmmakers make all the subtle connections between storylines and characters in this thing, it will pale in comparison to the intricacies devised by the original author. You’re going to just have to trust me on this one – I first read it in 2004 and just went back to it a couple of months ago and it COMPLETELY held up. More so, even – it may have been better the second time, since I brought 8 more years of reading life along with me.
*Attention fellow nerds: If there’s any interest in what I discovered while reading the books with an eye out for hyperlinks, let me know in the comments and maybe – MAYBE – I’ll write some more about it.*