Review of ‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell

Continuing my series of book reviews for writers. I stayed in bed this morning and finished reading ‘Cloud Atlas’ by Douglas Mitchell. I nearly didn’t finish it. It is a long book, parts are very boring and some of the characters are not worth the time it takes to get to know them. I think Mitchell is someone who likes to hear himself talk, and talk he does. Sometimes I think editors are afraid to tell famous writers they should condense or ‘edit’ their work, and I think Mitchell falls into this class. He has written 80 books. That’s a clue. Maybe slow down, write and rewrite a bit.
This is a plot-driven novel rather than character driven, and the plot jumps all over the place. It was hard to find a single character I empathized with. And none really grew or learned anything in the story. I didn’t ‘experience’ anything with the characters, but just watched them act out the plot.
There is a section in the middle of the book where the characters speak with what is supposed to be a dialect, but it comes across as an annoying affectation, speaking for pages and pages on end about goats. God, give me strength.
This would be the major knock on the book, the long passages of ‘Reader, look at me.’ Yes, you write beautiful prose. Your point? Prose that reads like writing needs to be re-written.
I wont read another book by him.
He finally wraps the book with some concise decency, railing for a better world, and it almost redeemed the 944 pages of side show. Almost.
Tom Hanks has a movie out based on the book. It takes less than three hours to watch. That would be my recommendation. On second thought no. The movie cost $100 Million to make, and flopped, bringing in less than $10M. I assume the movie had the same issues as the book.
I am torn between two stars and three. Two I think. I hate to give ones.

Review of Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country

I finished ‘Yellow Bird:Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country’ by Sierra Crane Murdoch. It is a good book and very well written.
The exploration of Lissa Yellow Bird was wonderful. A complicated, passionate character, conflicted, damaged, and resilient. We root for her.
The book suffered from jumping back and forth in time a bit too much; the action seemed to lag in the late middle part, and the number of people to keep track of was daunting. I kept some notes, but gave up at the two-thirds mark. Notes at the back of the book tell us Murdoch worked on this book for 8 years. She would have known these characters by heart, but a reader coming to this book new doesn’t have that. I think the author could have used a trick of fiction writers to give each character something we can remember them by. Wide eyes, booming voice, twitchy movements. Cues to help readers differentiate and picture each person in this large cast.
I enjoyed the look at aboriginal societies, families and culture. The ideas of Lakota sociologist Marie Yellow Horse Brave Heart of ‘Historical Unresolved Grief’ are topics I will do some more reading on. This ‘Intergenerational Trauma’ rings true to me. Here in Canada, 50% of the women in prison are First Nations. Something is seriously wrong.
I liked that the book was honest about the drugs, alcohol and prostitution, and the effects of sudden wealth. The greed. I might have gone a little deeper on this, but not full-on Irvine Welsh. Although Lissa might not have consented to that.
I am starting a project, ‘Consenting to Learn in Public’ and this book club entry dove-tailed nicely with that. I want to better understand Aboriginal history, culture and issues. All of us in North America have a responsibility.

May 16, 2022
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Review of Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country
ISBN 9780399589171

Review of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

I had never heard of this book until Dr. Ben Hardy mentioned it in a podcast. I’m glad he did. Originally published over a hundred years ago, this feels like the original ‘Self-Help’ book. I have read dozens, from Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Dale Carnegie and others. It is now a billion dollar industry, but this book felt like the precursor to all of them.
It is a short book, only 47 pages in my edition, but packed with great advice. The ‘Thought and Purpose’ chapter spoke to me. ‘Aimlessness is a vice, and such drifting must not continue for him who would steer clear of catastrophe and destruction.
This book can be read in just over an hour, so I highly recommend all readers take a look. And writers, I think this book may help focus and inspire you to get to work. It did me. Five Stars.

Review of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
ISBN 978-1-62755-416-9
May 6, 2022
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