Doomsday Clock: three minutes to midnight.
Finished The Bone Clocks, the subject of my last several progress reports/book posts. A few (almost) final thoughts:
- · I will miss Holly Sykes.
I had grown fond of her though not in love with her as the main characters of the substories, Hugo Lamb, Crispin Hershey, Ed Brubeck, and Marinus, all are. While Holly may have been spurned as teenager, love and loyalty dominate the rest of her several key relationships. That love and loyalty (almost) counterbalance the world’s bleak state by book’s end.
Holly is the only fully realized character in this 600-plus pager.
- · The Bone Clocks is not about characters; it’s more about how power plays out in different times, different places, different genres.
- · Each section or substory begins as if it’s independent, then links with increasing degrees of connectedness to the previous stories. The effect for this reader is one of repeatedly beginning anew. In each it took time for me to find my way, to engage. The result was a choppy reading experience, but one where I also delighted in the surprises of the revealed linkages. There's always a substory speaking beneath the present story; often someone subspeaking beneath what's being heard.
- · While in other posts I have briefly touched on substories 1-4, here are reactions to the final two:
Horologist’s Labyrinth 2025: In this fantasy section we come to full knowledge of the motives and paranormal activities and tools of the warring Anchorites and the Horologists, a war hinted at earlier. Bone Clocks is another word for those of us who live in time, as opposed to immortals or temporals. The section is narrated by Marinus, who like others goes by several other names. Names and histories of characters defy instant recognition in much the way those of Russian novels do; this section is best read by keeping character lists/ notes for sorting. The battles however, are appropriately, movie- worthy spectacular.
Sheep’s Head 204: “Worrying times, Holly Sykes.” The final episode, one of dystopian fiction, leaves me feeling bleak and uneasy. I calculate. 2043 is just 28 years away and unless I live as long as parents (now 97 and 92), I won’t see it, but my precious loved ones likely will. Given Mitchell’s imaginative version of it, I don’t want to. A period called the Endarkenment follows a world economic and net crash in the 2030s. When the organization “Stability” pulls out and no longer offers protection, roving bands threaten.
- Endarkenment, first an odd term, makes so much sense. Those 18th century scholars, who naively believed science and reason would guide man and his future, underestimated how blind and complicated our appetites are, how easy it is for us to ignore what we don’t want to think about. Here’s a key cataloging passage:
“I take a grief shuddery breath to stop myself crying…. it’s everything: It’s grief for the regions we deadlanded, the ice caps we melted, the Gulf Stream we redirected, the rivers we drained, the coasts we flooded, the lakes we choked with crap, the seas we killed, the species we drove to extinction, the pollinators we wiped out, the oil we squandered, the drugs we rendered impotent, the comforting liars we voted into office—all so we didn’t have to change our cozy lifestyles. People talk about the Endarkenment like our ancestors talked about the Black Death, as if it’s an act of God. But we summoned it, with every tank of oil we burned our way through. My generation were diners stuffing ourselves senseless at the Restaurant of the Earth’s Riches, knowing -- while denying—that we’d be doing a runner and leaving our grandchildren a tab that can never be paid.”
· Even as there is a slight uplift at the end, this book leaves me accused, powerless, dark, scared, anxious for the future -- shuddery.
- In fantasy only, I envision and hope for a miraculous deliverance for my children, grandchildren ……
I finish, not believing such fantasy possible, sad and wanting to be done with The Bone Clocks.
Closing it shut.
Closing it shut.
Tick Tock, Tick Tock, says a telltale bone clock.
Beneath the floor? Beneath my skin?
Beneath the floor? Beneath my skin?
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