David Mitchell proves once again that an author can inventively break the rules and still produce a fulfilling, interesting novel. In The Cloud Atlas, he played with time and story arc in a way that not only enhanced the meaning of the book, but actually made it more entertaining. In The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, he slips in and out of his characters' minds--sometimes in the same sentence--without losing the coherence of his narrative. The technique isn't necessarily new, but I've never seen it done so well.
It's also done not to show off Mitchell's chops as a word smith, but to advance the novel. All too many "modern" writers are so intent on demonstrating their disdain for the classic features of plot, character, description, and point of view that they produce incoherent works that appeal only to critics so eager to embrace the latest fad they fail to see that the emperor has no clothes. Mitchell's work uses revolutionary technique in the service of telling a story.
I applaud his art as well as his ability to wrap the reader in a time and place totally foreign and utterly absorbing.
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Dave Donelson, author of The Dynamic Manager's Guide To Advertising: How To Grow Your Business With Ads That Work a how-to book for business owners and managers.