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The Cloud Atlas Paperback – Oct 26 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The unlikely adventures of an 18-year-old soldier trained in bomb detection and disposal during World War II are painstakingly rendered against an Alaskan backdrop in Callanan's richly textured, sturdy debut. In the mid-1940s, Sgt. Louis Belk's main mission is to seek out and detonate Japanese hot air balloons that have been armed with explosives and deployed over North Americaan unusual but deadly war weapon. The slightest rumor of the balloons' existence might have a disastrous effect on American morale, which makes the job of Belk's bomb disposal unit even more critical. The unit's commanding officer, the eccentric, unbending Capt. Thomas Gurley, is a veteran spy hunter who lost a leg in an explosion and is on the verge of losing his mind. Both Gurley and Belk are smitten with Lily, an enticingly beautiful Yup'ik-Russian Eskimo seer whose great love, Saburo, a Japanese spy, is Gurley's nemesis. When the three go out in search of Saburo, they find something even more dangerous and puzzling: a booby-trapped balloon carrying a young Japanese boy. The narrative flits back and forth from Belk's harrowing exploits as a soldier to his present-day life as an Alaskan missionary tending to his friend Ronnie, who lies on his deathbed in an Alaskan hospice. Shadowed by the darkness of "arctic hysteria," the novel is brightened by crisp descriptions of bomb mechanisms and deactivation, as well as by Belk's offbeat, lyrical narration. Atmospheric and moving, this is an impressively assured debut.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
During the last days of WWII, naive Sergeant Louis Belk, trained in bomb disposal, is dispatched to the harsh frontiers of Alaska on a secret mission--capture and preserve one of the most enigmatic armaments of the war, Japanese balloon bombs. Working with the disgraced yet fiercely determined Captain Gurley, a former OSS spy hunter with a brutal nature, Belk studies a mysterious journal for clues to the next landing site of one of these lethal weapons. While exploring the wild streets of Anchorage, where a woman is viewed as a lady of the night and all soldiers are on top-secret missions, Belk meets Lily, half-Russian and half-Yup'ik Eskimo and self-proclaimed palm reader. Lily slowly divulges her secrets to Belk, including the site of the next bomb drop, finally revealing a secret that could threaten national security, one that takes Belk, Gurley, and Lily on a midnight quest into the frozen tundra. Alluring characters and story make this first novel a good choice for historical fiction collections. Kaite Mediatore
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
“Cloud Atlas” is comprised with six different stories, each of which except the sixth is punctured in the middle with the subsequent one, only to be returned to in the inverse order later on. The book has a form of one-dimensional nested Russian-doll. This is a very clever and technically challenging narrative structure, and with the right kind of material it could have been a real masterpiece. However, in the end I didn’t find this working out all that well. First of all, the stories are VERY loosely related to each other. Their tenuous connection relies more on insinuations, allusions, off-narrative developments, and certain stratagems (reincarnation?) that are never fully and explicitly developed and feel more like deus ex machina ploys than organic plot developments. Furthermore, it was really hard for me to get into most of these stories, with an exception of maybe one and a half of them. They seemed contrived, and it was not easy to start carrying for a whole new set of characters every forty pages or so. And once I did, the stories abruptly broke off, oftentimes at some of the most interesting points. By the time I returned to them, I had mostly forgotten what they were about in the first place, and cared even less about “what happens next.”
Finally, there is the whole issue of language.Read more ›
When I ordered this book, I thought I was getting the book described. My own fault for not paying better attention, but we were very disappointed with this order. I am now placing an order for the book I really wanted, which is David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas".
Built as multiple narratives one into another, each section is quite enjoyable on its own. Although the links between each part sometimes feel a bit stretched and the flow of reading halted by the insertion of yet another narrative (hence my rating of 4 stars vs 5), the total does become more than the parts and makes for excellent reading. Highly recommended.
1. Cloud Atlas is written as a series of short stories, each set in a different time period and location. Each is written in a completely different style. All except for the sixth one are cut off mid-way through and then completed in reverse order.
2. The six stories progress through the ages of civilization from tribal to modern day to a future society that is technologically advanced but completely dystopian to a post-apocalyptic world (which is essentially back to the tribal beginning).
3. Each of the six stories appear in some form in the succeeding story, as letters, novels, films, music, etc.
4. The protagonist in each story is conveniently identified with a comet shaped mole on their shoulder. SPOILER ALERT- They are in fact all reincarnations of each other.
5.The theme of this book is Exploitation of Man by Mankind and does Civilization really make one civilized?
I loved this book! I loved the different characters and the different writing styles that the author used in each of the six stories. Each character and the situation they find themselves in are very different, but each is amazingly well done.
I loved each of the individual stories! They were excellent on their own, but woven into a novel they come together to illustrate Mitchell's theme. Which is man's basic drive to exploit those around him, through every age and every civilization, over and over again.
This is an extremely creative and orginal book and I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Most recent customer reviews
I just recently finished reading Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and I highly HIGHLY recommend it. My friend Kyla once described it to me as ‘The perfect novel’, so I immediately... Read morePublished 6 months ago by SharaLee Podolecki
One of the great books I've recently read. Having enjoyed the movie somewhat, I was attracted to the subplots as this story is filled with intricacies that were impossible to... Read morePublished 9 months ago by sam
Loved his new work Bone Clocks.
This is entertaining, but overrated IMHO..
I found this to be a very confusing book. There was a thread and when I found my way back to it I enjoyed what I was reading but for the most part I was having to reread and try... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Michal
Simply brilliant.. Depth, connection, re-connection, progression.Published 17 months ago by Richard McKay
I bought this for my wife last Christmas. She seemed to enjoy it.Published 19 months ago by AlbertaRob