PROGRESS REPORT READING: David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks
Upon recently reading that scientists have moved the hands of Doomsday Clock closer -- to three minutes -- to midnight, I felt the approaching gloom and doom, the impending demise of a spoiled world. That’s a bit how I feel now half-way through David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks – along with a sense of excitement to see how it will all end – or maybe just come together - in Mitchell’s case. There’s even a touch of hopefulness – that maybe some Neil Gaiman-like inventiveness will come to the rescue.
All the while, destructive forces, like gathering storm clouds, intensify.
I’m into The Bone Clocks, a tale told in six sequential segments by different first-person narrators, who so far all have a role in the life of Holly Sykes.
Segment 1: (1984) I was mildly drawn in, mildy put off, by adolescent Holly Sykes as she ran from home to move in with her boyfriend. How naïve! How predictable! How could she (and the reader) not see what was coming? How could David Mitchell write such sappy stuff? And yet layered and lurking behind this simplicity was a secondary plot – one of confusing and vague character/forces that seemed unpredictable, impenetrable, thus far.
Segment 2: (1991) I didn’t care for the exploits of an elite spoiled university clique, especially those of the cheater, creep Hugo Lamb. I’m generally not a big fan of the campus/college clan genre. Once again, despite my aversion, I’m drawn in. Holly reappears– this time in Switzerland as a barmaid, seemingly capable of transforming the hardest of hard hearts. And those shadows in the background story emerge as slightly more defined.
Segment 3: (2004) By the book’s early midlife chapter, I am riveted, even rapt, by first-person narrative of Ed Brubeck, war correspondent whose life and story are split between attending a family wedding and covering the addictive violence of war – this time in Bagdad. Both stories— the two dissonant parts of Ed’s diptych, entrance me. And yes, there are powers astir even the most skeptical grow to acknowledge.
Segment 4: (2015) Full mid-life crisis, including the Dantesque lost in the woods reference and all that, this story is about another genre I don’t care for – writer books.
Ah, but Mitchell’s so clever. Author Crispin Hershey has just been pilloried for the very same flaws one might ascribe to Mitchell and The Bone Clocks:
“One: Hershey is so bent on avoiding cliché that each sentence is as tortured as an Amercan whistleblower. Two: The fantasy subplot clashes so violently with the book’s State of the World pretensions, I cannot bear to look, Three: What surer sign is there that the creative aquifers are dry than a writer creating a writer character?”
Exactly. Except I’m improbably adoring this book. I’m about half way through when I’m delightfully interrupted by a visit and grand times with grandkids.
BUT I’ve read enough to say I love this book, just as I loved Cloud Atlas. Will report back once done.
PROGRESS REPORT MOVEMENT: I’ll give myself a C for completion of the month-long movement cleanse and exploration at www.liberatedbody.com. I spend way too much time on the couch reading and computing to merit much more. (Some of this is reading about movement, so maybe it doesn’t count?) But I do love to move too – am committed to lap swims and yoga practice. I have been taking many more long walks in the woods with our dog at a nearby riverside park. Good for Riley! Good for me!