If you can successfully ford the "Sloosha's Crossin' " section, the pace of this thing picks up significantly. We're now revisiting the characters of the first five sections, in descending order. As Bananasuit has pointed out, all of those sections ended with a "cliffhanger," of sorts, so these new sections open with a bang and push forward with actual momentum.
The second Somni section is especially rewarding, filling in some of the blanks of exactly how "The Fall" came about and hinting strongly at my earlier theory of reincarnation. Sonmi has a sudden "memory of blackness, inertia, gravity, of being trapped in another ford. Where was it? Who was it?" Well, it would certainly seem to be Louisa Rey plunging into the river. Later Somni hopes that she'll be reincarnated into the Abbess's colony: does she become Meronym? All of these people, of course, possess the recurring comet-shaped birthmark.
It all sounds good, but upon further reflection, it doesn't quite hold up. If Louisa Rey is merely a character in a manuscript called Half-Lives, she can't fit in with these "real" characters, can she? And when Cavendish's section resumes, Mitchell gets all meta on our asses, as if chiding us for buying into these reincarnation theories. Cavendish, the editor, threatens to cut reincarnation references from the Rey manuscript (which suggest that Rey is the reincarnation of Frobisher) because such references are "far too hippie-druggy-new age."
So, I can't say I've cracked open the mystery box yet, or if this will ever be possible, but I'm enjoying the downhill slope that will eventually lead us back to Adam Ewing's journals.
Cavendish: "She was widely read enough to appreciate my literary wit but not so widely read that she knew my sources. I like that in a woman."
Best euphemism for male genitalia:
"Her furry fawn rubs up against my Narnian-sized lamppost and mothballs."
A shot and a PBR every time Mitchell obnoxiously references the title ("What wouldn't I give now for a never-changing map of the ever-constant ineffable. To possess, as it were, an atlas of clouds.").