Anyone who follows my Twitter feed knows I’m kind of a David Mitchell fan, and that Cloud Atlas – his mind-bending, genre-juggling showstopper from 2004 – is one of my All Time Favorite Novels. There’s a movie on the way – this movie –
– and the early word is that it’s a bit of a show-stopper itself. I admit I have my doubts that Cloud Atlas can be adapted to film in a way that does justice to the novel. Hell: I have doubts anyone can make a film that even makes sense out of the novel. If anyone can do it, though, I’d bet on the Wachowski kids, and Tom Twyker. Also… if they fail, any money says it’ll be a staggeringly entertaining failure.
The movie release does give me the excuse I’ve been looking for to revisit the novel, however, and the thought crossed my mind that maybe some of you out there might want to read along with me. So in October I’m going to be hosting a kind of book club. Call it The Hill House Readalong. I cannot supply wine, beer, cupcakes, or a pasta salad. I can provide a reading time-table, a place to talk about the story (two places, actually), encouragement… and a hashtag: #bigreadalong. If we all have fun, we’ll do another big readalong in a couple months. I’ll pick stuff in paperback that will (hopefully) be entertaining, and also useful for folks who care about story, and are interested to examine what makes the good ones hum.
For now, if you want in, pick up a copy of the novel, and get started. You can use the comments thread here to discuss the first 40 pages, but let’s not chatter about anything beyond that until October 5th. You can also bullshit about Cloud Atlas on Twitter using the #bigreadalong hashtag (I said there’d be two places to talk about it). If you get into the specifics of the first forty pages, put the hashtag #bigreadalong1 up front, and no one can complain if you include spoilers. #bigreadalong2 will be for Part II, and so on.
Those first 40 pages are a little challenging. Don’t be intimidated and don’t worry yer in for a long hard slog; trust Mitchell to show you a good time. And remember later you’ll be turning pages fast enough to put you at risk of EXTREME, LIFE-THREATENING papercuts.
Oh, and also, when you get to the bottom of page 39? Do not panic. It’s not a misprint.
Hope summa you will join me (maybe after you finish the new J.K. Rowling). Should be lotser fun.