Thursday, September 16, 2004

There's this book I'm reviewing for next week's Free Times called Cloud Atlas and it looks as if grasping the damn thing will take up the next three days. It's this year's Gravity's Rainbow, this year's Infinite Jest, this year's whatever you want to call it -- you know the "White Album" novel that comes out and amazes and confuses and all that. It is amazing and it is hard to follow: it's a series of disparate stories told over the course of many decades that are all connected in some way that is not yet immediately clear; I'm only about halfway through, and I'm just slightly fearful I won't get the punchline whenever it gets here. It starts with a sea-going journal from 1850 by Adam Ewing that is abruptly cut short; it is followed by a series of letters in 1931 from one Robert Frobisher, who discover the journal, to his friend Sixsmith. Then we jump ahead 40 years later, when Sixsmith is an aging nuclear scientist who is about to blow the whistle on a dangerous government project. Next section: modern day, in which a publisher named Timothy Cavendish considers publishing the story of Sixsmith, which turns out to be a trashy novel. Cavendish, on the run from a gang of thugs, finds himself trapped in a nursing home. Next section: it's the future, Korea dominates the globe and the world is one big corporate culture. A clone, or fabricant, named Sonmi-451 appears to have gained independent intelligence and, quite against the rules of society, watches a movie from way back in the early 21st century about a character named Timothy Cavendish, who apparently lived in a time when people aged. Next section: an apparently post-apocalyptic world, where Sonmi-451 is remembered as some kind of a Christ figure. From here, the book revisits all the previous stories, so that the book is structured like a pyramind: Ewing, Frobisher, Sixsmith, Cavendish, Sonmi, post-apocalypse, Sonmi, Cavendish, Sixsmith, Frobisher, Ewing. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. At least I think that's how it is. All I know is I have to finish and write 1000 words about it by Monday a.m. -- which at this stage of the game I can't imagine doing.

I mean, The Apprentice comes on tonight. I was going to bring home a pizza. I also have to get Katie that new Bjork CD for her care package. Her mom gets her practical stuff. I get her stuff that's fun and retarded and ephemeral.

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