Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cloud Atlas and the Corpocracy

Three days until Cloud Atlas, the movie, opens!

Have you read the book?

Are you planning to see the movie?

I have and I am!

Several years ago David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas, dressed up in colorful paper and bow, landed under our Christmas tree.  I can nearly always spot a book in the Christmas pile, and I did.  I reached for it, and the tag said, "Merry Christmas, Aunt Louise!"  It was from my niece Heather (who must have decided it was payback time for Aunt Louise for the decade or more of Christmas and birthday books A.L. had sent her way).

There was a note from Heather that started something like, "This is my all-time favourite book!"  I say "something like" because the note vanished into the Christmas litter never to be seen again.  I can't wait to read this! I thought.  I put it on my nightstand.

Some nights later I picked it up and began to read, "Beyond the Indian hamlet . . .   ."  I'm too tired! I thought.  Tomorrow night.

Some nights later I picked it up and began to read, "Beyond the Indian hamlet . . .   ."  I'm too tired! I thought.  Tomorrow night.

Some nights later I picked it up and began to read, "Beyond the Indian hamlet . . .   ."  I'm too tired! I thought.  Tomorrow night.
You get the picture.

After a while the guilt got to me.  I hid the book in a drawer in my nightstand, and every time I opened that drawer that book said to me, "What kind of an aunt are you?  Your wonderful niece Heather sent you this book!  She's your wonderful brother Roy's only daughter.  How can you not have read me?  It's her all-time favourite book!"  Yes, favourite - Heather's Canadian.  I'd shut that drawer to silence that book's voice.

Open.  "What kind of aunt are you?"  Close.
Open.  "What kind of aunt..."  Slam.
Open,  "What kind..." Slam!

One night I was not too tired.  I took out the book and started, "Beyond the Indian hamlet. . ."
I couldn't stop!  Forget that I had to get up and face a classroom full of huggy, needy third graders who needed to be taught in an inspiring, motivating way in a few hours.  You know those high stakes CSAPs are coming up soon, Louise!  I couldn't stop reading.

"Will you please turn out the light, Louise?  Some of us have to work in the morning!" said my disgruntled husband from under his pillow.

So I tromped out to the livingroom, sighing heavily, and curled up in my second most favorite spot to read.  Yes, favorite - I now spell in American because I've tried to turn too many American kiddos into super American spellers.  I read more and more and more.  OMG!  Cloud Atlas was turning out to be one of my favorite books ever!

So a half a dozen weeks ago, I was organizing, again, my overflowing bookcases, picked up Cloud Atlas, and began rereading it.  Right in the middle of the awful mess I had made of my study, again.

File:Matryoshka transparent.png
I read it front to back.  This time I knew when The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing ended in mid-sentence, the book wasn't misprinted.  That's what David Mitchell had intended when he structured the book like Russian Malyutin/Zvyozdochkin dolls.


I started reading it doll by doll, onion layer by onion layer, time shell by time shell.

I became fascinated with the theme of corporate power morphing into corpocracy - as in Luisa Rey's time when the successful held forth on the need to let businesses run the country, to establish a meritocracy that rewards wealthmakers, and to venerate the powerful.
Was Mitchell channeling Kernan, Kudlow, and Trump?  Or RomneyRyan?  

And language - as in Sonmi - 451's time when purebloods walked on snow in nikes, drove in fords on fordways, and drank their starbucks.
As in Zachry's time when, in Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After dialog, well you just have to immerse yourself in that because I can't even begin to describe it!
As in Adam Ewing's time when Doctor Goose follows the"enameled grails" of "human gnashers."  Such delicious fun in the South Pacific!  

So, last night I sat down in my second most favorite spot to read,
so my SomeofUsHavetoWorkintheMorning husband could remove his head from under his pillow,
so I could find some clever quotes on the evolution of the corprocrat and the corpocracy,
when Cloud Atlas fell open at the beginning of The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish,
and I started to read and couldn't stop laughing.

I laughed until my eyes watered and I had to cross my legs.
And I kept reading and laughing in TGOOTC because the irascible, curmudgeonly Timothy Cavendish was too much fun to abandon for the chilling world of the corpocrat and the corpocracy.

I can't wait for the movie.
I hope they don't screw up the book translating it to the screen.
After all, it's one of my all-time favorite books.
With love and thanks to my wonderful niece, Heather!

I like taking pictures of clouds.

Fundy Blue 


  1. I have always liked to watch for faces coming and going in the wind....and it wasn't only in to 60's I did this!

    Cloud Atlas...I will have to look this up and see if it will make my pile of unread and recommended books. You make an interesting case for it.

    1. Some of my earliest memories are cloud watching and seeing whatever shapes blew in. We get some magnificent clouds in Colorado, especially those associated with powerful thunderstorms.

  2. You are so funny Louise...still laughing at the interjections of humour(Cdn spelling).....OK I think you have me hooked...looking for the book tomorrow!

    1. Thank you for the compliment, Sophie. You have smarts and looks! I used to read Bunnicula every year to my third graders. The Bunnicula series was written by a very talented pooch named Harold. I think you could give Harold a run for his money. Fortunately you don't have to deal with his problems - a cat and a (possibly) baby vampire bunny. You seem to be living the good life: two great dads, Starbucks, rides to and from gorgeous places in a car - with a blue blankie no less! Enjoy!

  3. PS...Tom Hanks and Halle Berry are the stars!

  4. And Hugo Weaving - who is forever Elrond from LOTR!


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.