Sunday Salon – January 27, 2008

January 27, 2008

9:41 AM

Another Sunday of gray weather. We had over two feet of snow on Thursday, then the temperatures warmed and it has been raining since Saturday morning leaving the ground slushy. The up side to this horrid weather is that it keeps me inside with my books.

I managed to slog through and finish Great Expectations on Friday (read my review). The sense of accomplishment is perhaps worth the drudgery. But, in any case, I’m happy to move onto my next book.

Ghostwritten, by David Mitchell is this author’s debut novel. I discovered Mitchell last year – first reading Black Swan Green (read my review), and then Cloud Atlas (read my review). Since Mitchell likes to bring back characters from novel to novel, I would actually recommend readers start with his first novel and work forward from there. But, even if you read them from new to old, you won’t be disappointed.  Mitchell is one of the bright and shining “new” authors on the scene. He writes beautifully, slowly developing his characters and unraveling his literary puzzles. I’ve read through the first two chapters of Ghostwritten so far, and am enthralled. The novel is a series of nine linked stories. Already I’m fascinated at how Mitchell will bring them together – but I have no doubt he will. Ghostwritten has a lot in common with Cloud Atlas in this regard – and if you’ve read that novel, you will like this one.

As the month winds down, I am reflecting on the reading I’ve done. This month I received quite a few early release novels to read and review – and so I did not get to all the books on my reading list. I still have two early releases to read:

1. Theft of the Master, by Edwin Alexander – which was first published in the UK. I received this book from Lisa with on-line publishing. It will be the next book I pick up after I’ve finished Ghostwritten.
2. The Outcast, by Sadie Jones – which I received from the Harper Collins First Look Program. It is due for release in March, and my review of it is due by February 8th.

The books I wanted to read, but didn’t get to in January include:
Of Human Bondage, by Somerset Maugham
Cat’s Eye, by Margaret Atwood
Alentejo Blue, by Monica Ali
The Night Watch, by Sarah Waters
What the Dead Know, by Laura Lippman

Maybe in February….

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    • Anonymous on January 27, 2008 at 14:27

    I haven’t read any of Mitchell’s works, but your reviews have me intrigued. I need more TBR books like a hole in the head.
    I have SIX ARCs to read yet. OY! And more are on their way…
    Thank goodness there’s an extra day in February this year! =)

    • Anonymous on January 27, 2008 at 15:04

    I loved ‘Cloud Atlas’ and have “Black Swan Green’ sitting on my shelf looking at me as I write. But friends have told me that ‘Ghostwritten’ is THE Mitchell to read, so I shall be really interested to hear what you think of it. It is so exciting to find such an original voice and to wonder where his writing journey will take him.

    • Anonymous on January 27, 2008 at 15:56

    Yes, I’ve heard GHOST WRITTEN is ‘the’ book, too – and have read it and thought it fascinating. In fact I taught it to undergraduates and what we did was to make a mind map with circles for each of the stories and lines connecting them where they link…doing what he does when he writes in reverse, so I’ve read. It was a really interesting exercise and I think my students learnt a lot about how a writer, such as Mitchell, works.

    • Anonymous on January 27, 2008 at 19:23

    I am glad you said something about David Mitchell’s books and the best order to read them. Always good to know.
    My reading hasn’t exactly gone quite as planned this month. I barely got to dip into the challenge books I had been hoping to read. Fortunately it is the beginning of the year and there’s still time ahead of me.
    Stay warm and safe, Wendy. Happy reading.

    • Anonymous on January 28, 2008 at 15:27

    Jill: You really should read Mitchell’s books – I think you’d like them. I know what you mean about that extra day in Feb!
    Table Talk: I am so far enjoying Ghostwritten the best 🙂
    Clare: What a fascinating exercise! Did your students enjoy it?
    WendyCat: I’m trying not to feel too “stressed” about my reading piles right now *laughs* What a crazy month January was!

    • Anonymous on January 29, 2008 at 20:53

    I read Cloud Atlas last year…I had a lot of trouble getting into the first chapter (the kind of Moby Dick one), which put me off for awhile. Then I joined a challenge (Chunkster), which kind of forced me to persevere…boy, I’m glad I did, because it was amazing, and so worth getting into. Thanks for the suggestion on this new piece of his work!

    • Anonymous on January 30, 2008 at 11:56

    J – Glad you stuck with it. I remember the first chapter of Cloud Atlas being slow, but because I had read Black Swan Green and loved Mitchell’s writing in that book, I hung in knowing it would get better 🙂

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