Sunday, September 18, 2011

Holy Hell, Reading Right Along...

God I hate sci-fi. Better plow right ahead through "An Orision of Sonmi-451" so I can pretend it never happened. But first, a few quick thoughts on "The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish."

I'm happy to see that Mitchell is back to his zingers in full-force with the character of Timothy Cavendish! Started marking up my copy like an overachieving Mormon girl in high school English class again (I can say that because I was one).

Here we see a return of my three favorite motifs! Broken clocks, weird dreams, and golden geese. Just after Cavendish boards the train to "Hull," he complains about his broken watch: "My watch was stuck in the middle of last night." Ensue pot smoking hallucinations and Alice in Wonderland / Dante's Inferno references. Here Cavendish winds up in a nightmarish Lynchian hell, an echo of Adam Ewing's descent into the irrational, time-less hog heart's pit in the South Pacific. Also, we've got great lucid dreams about little boys who turn into Nancy Reagan. And finally, Cavendish's golden goose: "I, yes, I, had exclusive rights to this platinum goose with a bad case of the trots!"

Mad props to Nog for laying out the nested structure of Cloud Atlas thus far! To that I'll add that each vignette ends in some sort of horrible transitional state -- drinking poison to ward off brain-eating parasites; a botched cuckolding with a gun in the mix; an (attempted?) assassination & impending nuclear holocaust; imprisonment in a bizarro old-folk's home.

And my favorite snippet of the whole damn book so far:
"When your family is all tucked up asleep in your snug little beds, he'll slide into your house through the crack under the door and eat--your--puppy! ... He'll leave its curly tail under your pillow and you'll get blamed. Your little friends will all scream, 'Puppy slayer!' whenever they see you coming. You'll grow old and friendless and die, alone, miserably, on Christmas morning half a century form now."
See you on the other side of Sonmi-451!


  1. That puppy passage is my favorite, too! Cavendish has been my favorite part of the book to read by far. I know this is blasphemy given generally low expectations for the movie, but I think it's the one that would be the most fun to watch, too.

  2. There are other readers out there! Consider us excited! Come write for us.

    Actually agreed on Cavendish and the film. That could make for a totally bad-ass B-movie style. But they should keep some of his great language with a voice-over.