David Mitchell: The Bone Clocks

It is hot today. This post might make less sense than usual, as my brain has melted.

So. I read ‘Black Swan Green’ a while ago, and I remember it as very good urban realism. Then I heard about ‘Cloud Atlas’, and tried to watch a bit of the film, and it was quite weird and confusingly supernaturalish. Given the preponderance of Davids Mitchell in the world, I did wonder a bit whether they were actually by the same person, but am assured that they are. I’m now wondering whether I’ve mis-remembered ‘Black Swan Green’ quite a lot.

Mild spoilers under the cut.

Anyway… ‘The Bone Clocks’ starts off as gritty urban realism, and becomes increasingly weird and metaphysical. A lot of it is about really quite unpleasant people, which makes it heavy going at times, although it’s kind of intriguing in a morbid fascination, vicarious cruelty, weird dopamine kind of way. I don’t think that’s really my thing, though – I’m a bit sensitive and I much prefer to read about nice people being nice to each other.

This also felt like a very male book, although the (arguably) main character is a woman. I did like her, although there was something that felt kind of masculine about her particular way of doing stoicism – in a way that would have felt absolutely fine and like positive representation if there had been any other properly fleshed out female characters. I did like her as an angry teenager though, and there was some fierce maternal stuff towards the end, so maybe I’m being harsh.

I think, on the whole, that this is a good and clever and well-written book, and either isn’t quite right for me or this wasn’t quite the time for me to read it. This certainly was not the week to read a hundred page epilogue about the Breakdown of Civilisation. I am troubled. But I think it was good.


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