Saturday, February 15, 2014

Cloud Atlas (book, 2004)

Links: TVTropes, Wikipedia, Good Reads (4.03/5), Amazon, Google Play.

I recently watched (and reviewed) the movie, but this is a postmodernist work where the presentation of the story is an important part of the story itself, and I was wondering if the book's presentation (nested tales told 6 deep) or the movie's presentation (6 tales told in a juxtaposed jumble) served that purpose better.  Ultimately... it's a tough call to make, but I say the movie was better overall.  Telling each tale as two 40-page lumps of text lets us immerse ourselves more deeply in each tale, but that's kind of a bad thing?  Let me explain.  One of the conceits of the storytelling is that the individual tales are pastiches bordering on satire when viewed in isolation, but that the story woven together from those tales is trying to make a deeper point.  Giving us 40 pages of "<cliché A>" followed by 40 pages of "<cliché B>" sort of ruins the mood; at a certain point you're checking the table of contents to figure out how much longer you have until the next tale.  Then there's the fact that most of the tales work better in film than in text (winners: 3 film, 1 text, 2 toss-ups).  Overall, I heartily recommend the film but feel like the book is more of a postmodernist curio than a dog-eared must-read.  A noble experiment, though.  Score: 2 stars out of 4.

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