by David Mitchell
First sentence: “Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.”
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Content: There is some language, including strong language in some of the chapters, and some implied sex. It’s in the adult fiction section at the bookstore, and I think, while there are some kids who might like this, it’s a good place for it.
I won’t say that I had high expectations going into this. Or that I really wanted to read it. Actually, after S., I kind of didn’t want to have anything to do with adult fiction for a good long while. But, this was our book group pick, and I’m a good book group member, so I picked it up.
I’m not even going to try a plot summary; mostly because I’m not sure there is a plot. There are multiple plots. And, even though I kind of liked some of them, they’re not worth recounting. It’s because this book isn’t about plot. It’s about Style and Meaning. And it doesn’t even really pretend (unlike S.) to be anything else.
But that’s what infuriated me. Aside from the stories stopping halfway through (very annoying, that), I wanted there to be some real connection between the individual stories. (Mostly because it’s a “novel” rather than a collection of stories.) But there wasn’t. Sure, the previous story is referenced in the next as a book or a movie (Symbolizing The Interconnectedness Of Our Existence or something Deep like that), but I wanted a character to travel through time. Or it to be someone’s descendant. Or something like that. And so, I spent too much of my time trying to figure out how the stories interconnected.
Plus, I’m not a careful reader. I miss details. And if you miss details in this, you loose Meaning and Substance.
I was game to finish the book, reading it as it’s “supposed” to be read (I did, briefly, contemplate jumping and finishing each individual story before moving on.), but I bailed when I got to the “middle” story, not just because I was increasingly frustrated with the book, but because of this: “I watched the clock’s tickers that mornin’ too tll Abbess came back from her augurin’ an’ sat ‘cross from me. She telled me Old Georgie was hungerin’ for my soul, so he’d put a cuss on my dreamin’s to fog their meanin’.” I. Don’t. Like. Dialect. I find it hard enough to read in the most normal of circumstances, but to throw dialect on me, in addition to all the other frustrations, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
I bailed. I did go and check on Wikipedia to see what I missed, and I found that (at least according to them) I didn’t miss much.
THIS is why I read kids’ books.