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Thursday April 24, 2014
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David Mitchell



folks who brought us the Matrix franchise, and because of an extravagant trailer, supposedly "smuggled" out, but actually released last summer on the Apple website. It was gorgeously filmed, riveting, and deeply puzzling.

And the confusion is justified. Cloud Atlas, the novel, moves in progression through six different stories--a nineteenth-century sailing narrative involving slavery and murder, an early twentieth-century story of musical composition and the tribulations of artistic creation, a hair-raising tale of an investigative journalist in 1970s America, a contemporary piece about a British publisher of pulp fiction who manages to score a best-seller, a futuristic piece about clones bred to perform menial labor for "pure bloods," and a dystopian story, set on the Big Island of Hawaii, in which a tribe of survivors struggle to keep themselves alive in a world their forebears had tried to destroy. Once that final piece is finished, the novel starts back through the previous five to see how they were resolved--so the reader moves forward through time, then backward.

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