Wednesday's Inspiring Book (and, soon, film)

Morning / afternoon one and all. No Monday post this week due to hectic work schedule, but things are calming down now, and it's time to return to regular programming.

Writing this week's gone well - the new book, which only has a tentative title right now, creeps over the 15,000 word mark - 5000 more and we'll be roughly half way there (and livin' on a prayer). Exciting stuff. I love writing in autumn, as I've mentioned, and just walking around the city, or even a nearby graveyard, makes me excited to get back to the book, to try to capture the feeling in the air. A lot of writing is like that, I think - one exact experience, and years of attempting to recreate it for others.

Today, though, is Wednesday, and around here that can only mean another edition of Wednesday's Inspiring Books. Hold on to your hats, now.

Today, I'm looking at CLOUD ATLAS, by David Mitchell.

The Simon-approved version of the cover
I read this book in Japan after owning it for a while but never making it through the first few pages. Sometimes that happens, and it's OK. The mood doesn't take you, and you have to wait. I don't know what eventually inspired me to begin again, but I'm glad I did (and thankful to my good friend Justin for first recommending this book to me back in the lost world of university days).

CLOUD ATLAS is a complicated book, and very Murakami-esque. I'm not the first to draw that comparison. Set up as a series of stories piled inside one another, Russian dolls-style, it covers thousands of years, but only a few lives - and that's one of its secrets, I think. Mitchell seems capable of broad sweeps and epic narratives, but it's the human angle and their voices he really captures. The underlying themes, of loyalty, love, and the power of our lives to touch those we never meet, are never forced, but woven in with a pretty magic subtlety which leaves you wondering what the themes were, exactly. By that I mean they're not heavy handed - there's a very definite ephemeral nature to the plot.

Later this year the film of this book is coming out:

It looks like they've focused much more on the reincarnation angle than the book does, but it's understandable, and can still work. I'm excited by this movie, but nervous at the same time - book to movie transitions can go horrible wrong, and it's sad when they do.

So how'd this book inspire me? I

t's one of those books that I keep picking up because I remember a certain scene, a certain chapter, a certain character, and I want to read it again. Most times, not the entire book - I skim till I find the story, read a few pages, and leave it again. Mitchell's writing is good enough that these encounters, these turns of phrase and settings and lives are impressed on my memory and simply come to me, unsought for, every now and then. That's inspiring. If I can write a conversation, or a character, or a place, that just pops into readers heads years after they read the book, I'll die a happy man. And maybe I won't really die at all...

So that's today's inspiring book. And, thankfully, it will be inspiring on other days as well, in the future, in the past, etc. That's book magic, that is.

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