I should have started reading contemporary writers awhile ago. My attempt to read current books is a new phenomena. I can only imagine what I've missed during my odd snob period. I'm still a book snob, but now I'm at least attempting to read newer books, though I still find it difficult to buy a new hardcover book for $30 when I can buy two paperbacks for the same price.
David Mitchell is such a writer that I would have passed over and read a supposed classic in his place. Since he's compared to Pynchon, I may have read The Crying of Lot 49 or Gravity's Rainbow. Both classic novels in their own right, but I would have missed the genius of Mitchell. Each chapter of Mitchell's Cloud Atlas changes narrator, but has the perfect continuity of a novel. Each chapter, though completely different in form, is linked, touched, to the previous section and the reader passes through nineteenth century New Zealand, 1970s California, some futuristic Asian setting and I can only imagine what's to come in the second half of the book.
Today in Boston, the wind is shooting chills through our layers of clothes and tingles our spines. The beginning of spring taunts those of us that brave the below normal cold. Carrying my book to work today, I thought my hand would freeze to the binding, but I didn't think this would be a problem. Having your hand forever on a book, bliss? The book didn't freeze, my hand and mind heated up, slowly for sure, and today we long for the spring to come. Not tomorrow, but to come.
David Mitchell Cloud Atlas
Kate Atkinson Case Histories