The Thousand Autumns

I finished David Mitchell’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet this morning.  I’m still sort of swimming in feelings after that ending – my god, that ending – but I’m too impatient to wait until the coffee kicks in to write something real and meaningful.  So some quick bullet-pointed reactions are as follows:

  • Nobody on this earth writes more satisfying endings than David Mitchell.
  • It’s very interesting to read this book after Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas, both of which span multitudes of time and space and narrative points of view.  JdZ is much more self-contained, confining the vast majority of its story to one specific place and over the span of just a few years; and yet, upon completing it, it feels no less epic in scope.
  • His writing patterns are interesting in that he starts out drawing these meticulously well-developed characters and putting them in very detailed places, and then he sorta just lets them do their thing, and one’s attention may start to wander as one tries to figure out just where on earth everything is going even as the writing remains engaging, and then there’s an inevitable HOLY SHIT moment when everything suddenly ties itself together and you realize that you’ve been taken on an incredible journey.
  • Why did it take me so long to start this one?  I liked Cloud Atlas very much, and Bone Clocks has become one of my all-time favorites… and I’d bought JdZ right away when it first came out but couldn’t bring myself to start.  Perhaps my disinterest in historical fiction was stronger than my affection for his writing, but I shan’t make the same mistake again.  If he writes it, I’m reading it.

I am trying to figure out what to read next.  I’ve been making excellent progress on my backlog; JdZ is a tough act to follow, so perhaps I should go with something short and ridiculous like Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist… or maybe I should start reading one of the 5 Philip K. Dick books on that list.  Or maybe Rachel Kushner’s The Flame Throwers?  Not really feeling up for more Murakami, which is something I never thought I’d ever say; 1Q84 was a huge, huge disappointment.  If you have any ideas, let me know.