I have trouble with David Mitchell. I like him, and I like his attempts to push writing, like his Twitter stuff, and hearing him talk about his work at Edinburgh Book Festival. But I cannot, for the life of me, really get into his books.
I struggled with Cloud Atlas and those leaping narratives, tied together with such a tenuous thread that I lost interest by the time they looped back round to those he’d begun hundreds of pages prior. I found myself frustrated to get slowly hooked into a story for it to end abruptly and pick up somewhere else, starting afresh with attempt to eventually give it some link. I couldn’t place who did what and what relevance they held when mentioned again.
Many of those frustrations came up in The Bone Clocks. When it started with Holly as a teen, I got really into it. I powered through it. And then it came to the end, where it leaps to the next decade, and that familiar unease came back.
At his event, he’d spoke about the story per decade, and the attempt to write in new genres per section, and, again, I admire that approach, but as a reader I just cannot get into reintroducing myself to a story five times in the course of one character’s life. It’s far more fluid than Cloud Atlas but it’s still all over the place in terms of being able to track the story and progression through the years.
In refinding my place, I still found it difficult at times to pick up who did what from previous sections and their significance later. I’ve had a struggle with reading lately, meaning that instead of powering through books in days, it’s taken weeks. Others I’ve had no issue with picking back up and remembering where I left off, but this book is absolutely not great for diving in and out of.
His scope and ambition, I like. But I’m yet to really get into his stuff, and it’s safe to say his work is not for dipping in and out of. One day I will tackle his books when I’m practically inhaling books and I think it will all click. One day…