Re-Reading Cloud Atlas Part III

By Kim Hollis

October 31, 2012

Which Alice in Wonderland character is this?

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With regard to the movie, I found it somewhat unsatisfying, though I was expecting this to be the case. While I admire the ambition and creativity the creators embraced, I think it both failed and succeeded. Carrying over *so many* characters from setting to setting is unwieldy and confusing, and I can’t imagine that someone who hasn’t read the book would fully enjoy the experience. Also, while I do understand the need to change some plot points in the story, I was disappointed by some, including the decision to make Zachry much (much) older than the character was in the story. Meryonm being significantly older than Zachry (and all of the Valleysmen) is important. With that said, the author seems to be pleased with the film overall, so I have some trouble legitimizing my complaints.

During my re-reading of the book, my BOP compatriot Eric Hughes was reading Cloud Atlas for the first time. I really enjoyed seeing someone new to the novel enjoying it the way I did when I initially experienced the book. In his review of the book, he brought up the various means of communication employed throughout the book, and I found myself regretting that this was something I hadn’t considered more deeply. I may leave that for the next time I read the novel, as I’m sure I inevitably will.

Finally, I’ve enjoyed this process so much that I’m considering choosing another book at some point in the future and dissecting it in a similar manner. Perhaps BOP readers would like to get involved in a “Big Read” at some point. If so, please drop me a note at and if there’s enough interest, we’ll see what we can get going, maybe as early as December 2012.

I’ve listed some “extras” below. Cloud Atlas is full of musical and literary allusions, several of which I’m sure I missed. If you know of any that you don’t see on the list, let me know and I’ll add them to the lists.


Cloud Atlas Music List

Air and Dance for Strings, by Frederick Delius
Blood on the Tracks, by Bob Dylan
Cloud Atlas I-VI, by Toshi Ichiyanagi
Tapestry, by Carole King
St François d'Assise: la prédication aux oiseaux, for piano, Franz Liszt
Capricci armonici sopra la chitarra spagnola, by Ludovico Roncalli
Trois Gnossiennes, by Erik Satie
Gnossiennes Nos. 4-7, by Erik Satie
Sonata in A Major K, No. 212, by Domenico Scarlatti
Sea Symphony, Ralph Vaughan Williams

Suggested Reading List

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana Jr.
Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond
Siddhartha, Herman Hesse
The Odyssey, Homer
Wreck of the Hesperus, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Benito Cereno, Herman Melville
Moby Dick, Herman Melville
Typee, Herman Melville
Black Swan Green, David Mitchell
Ghostwritten, David Mitchell
number9dream, David Mitchell
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell
Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
Une Saison en Enfer, Arthur Rimbaud
The Island of Dr. Moreau, HG Wells
Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman
The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder

Continued:       1       2       3       4       5



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