Book Review: Cloud Atlas

Title: Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
ISBN: 978-1444761788

A Matryoshka novel. Like those staples of Russian souvenirs, there are stories nested within stories. Within stories. But unlike those wooden dolls, each level ties in with the one that comes before and after. A history unfolding in layers – perhaps an onion would be a better metaphor.

No – forget talking about its structure, just enjoy the writing. Each story is well-written – each in a different style, appropriate to its period of history or future history. That’s the impression that stays, even when you’ve forgotten about the trick of nesting them.

A great book, but not for the faint-hearted.

Personal read: 4 stars
Reading group read: 4 stars

Book Review: Diary of a Mad Man

Title: The Philosophy of a Mad Man
Author: Steven Colborne
ISBN: 978-1-78132-023-5 (Paperback)

A book that does exactly what it says on the cover.

Psychiatric patient Steven Colborne has spent much of his adult life looking for something that could mend his broken life. He’s tried a variety of possible fixes, including non-mainstream religious interventions and illegal drugs. By most people’s reckoning, his self-description would be accurate – Steven is what most of us would call a mad man.

But at least he can write. The subject matter gets uncomfortable, but remains readable. His honesty can be painful to read, but there’s no doubt he means every word.

I found Part I, chapters jumping about through the years of his searching, to be far better than Part II, when he details his resultant philosophy. I ended the book feeling that it left too much hanging – I wanted a rounding-off and it didn’t have one.

An interesting insight, but not a book for everyone. 

Personal read: 4 stars 
Reading group read: 2 stars