David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas

Writing has rules. There are a lot of rules you are supposed to never break. Don’t argue with me, because I’m right.

I’m halfway through David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (yes, the one the movie is based on) and so far he has broken almost every rule you’re supposed to follow. He has six different protagonists. He uses six different narrative styles. He even headhops from character to character in the same chapter, the same paragraph.

So why is he forgiven for all these violations?

Because the book is that damned good.

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How You Title Your Novel

You author-types out there, I’m curious how you approach the naming of your book. I like to choose a title that has double meaning, and both meanings connect with the story.

Virtual Silence is about an oppressive government that almost silences dissent, but not quite. And it is about an activist group that seeks to shut down the government’s means of control, which is the virtual world of the internet.

Fugue in C Minor is about a composer who is trying to write a great song, but struggles because of a brain injury that has caused significant memory loss.

What do you do? Or, as a reader, what does a title say to you?

Review of Brian Doyle’s Mink River

A talking crow, people calling Mount Hood by its native name, Wy’East, and a fictional community I swear I’ve been to, all make this one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

Doyle captures the spirit of the Oregon Coast, part tourist trap, part remnant of ancient Native American villages, a place where people live and die far from city life. If you don’t fall in love with Cedar and his strange sense and sensitivities, check yourself for a pulse.

Reading Doyle’s poetic narrative prose is like putting melted chocolate bars in your coffee.

Wake up and read Mink River. You’ll thank me.