I loved The Bone Clocks. That’s the short answer.
The long answer:
I have done a lot of travelling lately, which means not a lot of booksellng, but a lot of reading. To my shame, it also means not a lot of use of one of my other Great Passions, the Public Library. I’ve been reading everything on the Kindle app on my Great Big Phone. Which means that, to my shame:
1. I paid for books when the public library has them available to all, for free. I feel so dirty.
2. I can’t lend my copy to a friend.
But needs must, or whatever.
[Actually I am a huge fan of Amazon, for many very real reasons, many to do with the future of commerce or their ruthlessly customer-centric business model, and of course not least of those reasons is that without Amazon I would not be a bookseller. I love you, Amazon. I have to put it out there. But that’s a tale for another day.]
When drifting here and there across the American Southeast for 3 of the last 7 months and re entering Wine Country exhausted and completely disorganized but, one hopes, for a few solid travel free months, one needs something to read, and can’t carry heavy books, and can’t just stop at every public library along the way.
Inability to use every public library in every state in the nation is a shame of national proportions. Maybe that’s something I need to work on in my spare time- reciprocal lending in all 50 states and the territories. H’m. Can’t go there now though.
Something else I probably need to learn is how to use the free e book downloads my public library provides. I have always been proud of myself for being one of those early adapters. How can I have missed out on this? It’s something I advocated for in my previous life as a librarian. I am not getting old. I am not, I am not, I am not. I have to make this right.
Anyway, The Bone Clocks.
This was my first David Mitchell, and I don’t think I could possibly love any of his other books as much as I did this one, so I don’t think I will read any more.
People complained of how it wandered between narrators, that the characters weren’t compelling enough and it was too much to keep up with and – whatever. It looks to me like much of what irritated people is just Mitchell’s current mode of storytelling. That’s what he does. You like it or you don’t. That’s why it’s smart to get your contemporary fiction book free at the public library or borrow a paper copy from a friend, people. Then you’re not out any money. [But see above- I love Amazon. I do. Just saying…] I happened to love it, and hated to put it down until I finished it.
You can read all sorts of reviews on Amazon. I am not going to retell the story here or hit any highlights. I did find it a teeny tiny bit of a slog, for about sixty seconds here and a couple of minutes there, wading through subsequent narratives by different characters, but it was all worth it in the end, and if it didn’t hang together I didn’t notice. Your mileage may vary.
What I loved about it was that Mitchell invented a whole new (to me) narrative of the epic struggle between good and evil. That is just beyond difficult. He also explores why people might make the ‘wrong’ choice with a light touch. I appreciated that. And the reader sees that ‘doing the right thing’ is sometimes just putting one foot after the other, even when it doesn’t look good, when one is hurting and afraid, but that love- for comrades, for family, even for that old flame that died before it had a chance to burn- is a powerful, powerful motivator. I loved Holly Sykes, but I loved several of the other characters who made up this very satisfying tapestry as well.
Favorite quote? It’s 2039 or so in a teeny tiny village in Ireland and the mad consumerism of today has led to the savage dystopia of the near future. Oh, come on, you can’t possibly call that a spoiler. We all know it’s coming. Stop it. So there’s no fuel or electricity, there’s little food or medical care and even less internet connectivity with loved ones or the outside world, and there are so many bigger fish to fry when it comes along. I can’t go and look it up, but the essence is that there’s a proven link between bigotry and poor spelling. HAH!
If only giggling at poor spelling were enough to right the injustices of this world. And of course spelling snobbery helps no victim of bigotry and is in fact be its own species of bigotry. But still, thanks for that, Mitchell.
So. Bone Clocks. I loved it. If you try it, I hope you do too.