A book that gives hope on so many levels. A book that dares to bring the basic human feelings together with the major challenges in society in a way that captures the imagination. A book that brings back story telling and not posing as the key element. There are parts that feels as if David tries to hard to find a smart solution, or to rushed to help the reader understand where they are in the story, but these are minor things and I feel reluctant to mention them. In a way they add to the human element, and when he adds the year of a bottle of wine it almost feels that he does it with a smile. The mix of stories are brilliant and more then one time I thought about the book G.E.B. (Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid), in a good way. The book is almost the opposite as the narrative is driven forward by emotions and personal stories, but there is a harmony and circular movements that few books even attempt, and even fewer manage to pull off.
I would almost call it a utopia, but an unwritten utopia. The stupidity and insensitivity of humanity is exposed in a way that is both brutal and fragile. All though history does not give us much hope, we have the opportunity to change, or is it too late. Would we have to rewind and start on a new track much earlier ? Or is it never too late if we date to look beyond the next step?
The way the book has an almost unlimited number of contrasts makes it sometime difficult to read.
One of the contrasts that I like is on the one hand the story about Adam (Ewing). It brings us back before industrialization, where choices about fundamental ways of lives existed, but was not even discussed. The book start and ends with Adam. And Adam is given the opportunity to give us some word’s of advice. “If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers races & creeds can share this world as peaceable as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitable, such a world will come to pass. I am not deceived. It is the hardest of worlds to make real. Torturous advances won over generations can be lost by a single stroke of a myopic president’s pen or a vainglorious general’s sword.
On the other side, and in many ways a much more interesting story as it has not been told so often is Sonmi-451 when she steps outside the story and looks beyond. “We see a game beyond the endgame… As Seneca warned Nero: No matter how many of us you kill, you will never kill your successor. Now, my narrative is over.”
It is not hard to see that this book would attract someone that wanted to tell the story visually. The fact that the Wachowski’s and Tom Tykwer got together and raised independent funding moved this book up from “to-read” to “READ”… If Aronofsky would have been involved as well I’m not sure I would have dared to watch it. Now I can only hope that the movie will have story telling that is not afraid of pauses, and that they stay away from the Nolan artificial sound track. I like it for Batman and Inception but this movie has a human side that require more of a Zbigniew Preisner or Michael Nyman.
David Mitchell is really someone I look forward to read more of, but if this was the only thing he wrote worth reading it is more than most authors can even dream of.
Update 2013-05-14 I finally came around to see the movie version of the book. Interesting take on the book as they turned the books meandering poetry into a more straight forward story and brought it together as a call for action (revolution) in a way that is very much less straight forward in the book (that is an understatement for those who have not read the book). I would say that the movie is like a good cover of a song you like. It include elements from the original but brings a totally new feeling to it in a way that makes you see the book in a new way.