Idle Thumbs Bookcast

I suggest reforming the thread as a Spoiler thread for the Bookcast in general. Considering that it will only be one book a month and people are obviously invested in the podcast for participating, I think the chance of someone accidentily spoiling a previous book they never read is extremely low, and having one thread for each book might result in a lot of small threads with very little discussion happening.

As documented in the other thread, I was a little cool on Sense of an Ending as well. But Cloud Atlas I wholeheartedly recommended. I can't think of a book that has managed better to balance on the tightrope of being simultaneously emotionally and intellectually engaging.

Cloud Atlas has been on my to-read list for almost two years now, can't decide if I want to hurry up to get to it (got two-three other books on my plate right now).
I know this is a very general question, but how difficult is it, what does it compare to?

Yeah, I say we just let spoilers live in this thread- beware all who enter. I think I'd prefer to have the one stop shop rather than a thread for each book- which is a shame, because Gore made such a nice new page.

UCRC wrote:

Cloud Atlas has been on my to-read list for almost two years now, can't decide if I want to hurry up to get to it (got two-three other books on my plate right now).
I know this is a very general question, but how difficult is it, what does it compare to?

Page-by-page it's not a difficult read at all, though it does reward paying attention. There are some sections with quite a bit of stylized, non-standard English, but nothing that's hard to follow. As for what it compares to, that's quite hard to say. It borrows from a diverse set of genres and styles.

One caution: You want to read it in a fairly contained stretch of time. It's not a book that you want to put down for two or three months and then come back to.

4dSwissCheese wrote:

One caution: You want to read it in a fairly contained stretch of time. It's not a book that you want to put down for two or three months and then come back to.

That's partly why I like this book club podcast. Too many times I get so distracted by other things, that when I go back to reading a novel, I forget what's going on. If I want to be part of the conversation, I'm forced to focus on it.

Sounds good, I might give it a shot if I can power through all non-fiction that I'm reading right now in time for next bookcast.

Two-and-a-bit chapters in, like what I'm seeing so far. Robert chapter in particular. Maybe after reading non-fiction I'm in a mood, but in any case Mitchell undeniably has a good feeling for characters and prose. Can't wait to see where it al goes.

edit: And for anyone out there who's on the fence like I was - it's snappy and reads very well.

Really enjoyed the first book cast. It wasn't nearly as disjointed as they thought it was. I still have strong reservations about the execution of the novel, but it also reminded me of all the aspects I really liked about it as well.

Really need to focus on reading Cloud Atlas on my bus trips in order to finish it in a month.

I'm about a 1/3 done with Cloud Atlas. It took a while for my library to get the book from another library. Also, I just don't read much anymore (which is weird considering how much my head used to always be buried in a book). Also, I don't find the book to be a burner- it takes a bit of time to read (not a lot- it's not really challenging) so pages just don't melt for me. That said, I'm really digging it.

I was hoping to be able to stay up with all the selections, but it's doubtful. I was hoping to get the audiobook, but no such luck. Also, in case anyone hasn't seen it:

Next book is Telegraph Avenue, the new one from Michael Chabon.

I really enjoyed the Cloud Atlas discussion. Also, if you're in the process of reading the novel, you might not want to watch the trailer. They make a pretty big assumption about the novel that's going to be obvious from the trailer.

I've read the book some time ago but didn't get to listen to cast yet. It's alright, it has better and worse moments (Sonmi reads like poor Huxley pastiche, while Frobisher letters are really good prose).

Movie is a travesty and makes me want to punch whole of Hollywood in the collective face.

edit: I'll probably give Chabon a pass I wish they did something less current and more left-field. (That means I'll probably mail Chris later to suggest any of Lem books ;))

I finished up the Chabon over the weekend. There's lots of good writing and a great sense of place, but it didn't really wow me like Kavalier and Clay (which is a book I love, and which, setting aside the podcast, I'd recommend over Telegraph Avenue for someone who wanted to read some Chabon).

I've heard the same thing from other people. And having read Kavalier & Clay only last year, I'm not too eager to back to get to Chabon just now. Too much other good literature waiting.

UCRC wrote:

I've read the book some time ago but didn't get to listen to cast yet. It's alright, it has better and worse moments (Sonmi reads like poor Huxley pastiche, while Frobisher letters are really good prose).

(Background: I just finished "Cloud Atlas" - running a bit behind here, haven't listened to the cast yet, haven't read other criticism yet)

I agree with what you say, but (to me) this is the "deal" with this book.

Each section is written through the lens of some weird genre fiction, which is at times actually directly referenced in the book. Melville's Typee is mentioned in the Ewing section, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is directly referenced in the Cavendish section... and I feel like Huxley is even specifically mentioned in the Somni section (though I'm not as sure about that one). I'm sure there are others which I've forgotten as well.

To me, this book feels like it's taking a few very broad themes (savagery vs civilization, slavery (or its lesser cousin, coercion), religion, sexuality, nonconformity) and looking at them each in turn through the lenses of these genres, which creates this sort of meta-story about how literature reflects on society. It seems like a sort of thought experiment to me, where each genre is supposed to talk about these things in the best way the author knows how.

This makes Cloud Atlas an incredibly uneven read, where an individual genre may appeal to a reader more than others. It's a fascinating endeavor, though, and I found it a very compelling read once I got to Frobisher (coming to it with no foreknowledge at all, I didn't know what to make of the initial Ewing section; was this the whole book?). With every new section, I tried to wrap my thought process around just how the individual stories operated and what role each played in the work as a whole.

The thought of making this into any kind of film seems amazingly terrible to me; the only way I could see it working is if you do something equivalent with film style (e.g., make Luisa Del Rey look and feel like some kind of cheesy 70's detective story, make Cavendish "feel" like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, make Frobisher "feel" like Downton Abbey, etc) without trying to literally adapt the book.

I'd like to talk about the book more before I have a ton of ideas injected into my brain at once by the cast. I haven't seen much talk here but hopefully some other people are interested in discussing it.

You just missed our Google hangout discussion last week! There's some talk about the book over in the GWJ Book Club group on Goodreads. We don't really discuss the novels in the GWJ Book Club thread, though.

I'm such a pathetically slow reader- still working on Cloud Atlas. I may only be able to participate in a few of the books a year, but better than none at all.

So, I listened to the Cloud Atlas cast (finally).

I think (as with the first cast on The Sense of an Ending) there was more recap than was really necessary. It is important to give a little context so a reader can figure out just where a passage lies, but they seem to sometimes get bogged down in retelling what is happening (when it should be assumed the reader knows).

The loss of Jake is disappointing. I do not know whether this is a general trend. If they lose Jake they really need to bring somebody else on - I like Famous and Remo well enough, but there needs to be another voice. Two is not enough to tango here.

The literal reincarnation thing kind of bummed me out too. I know, divorce your reading from authorial intent, etc - but it's still there now, in the back of my mind. I found this novel much more compelling with a little ambiguity.

I also feel like they only vaguely discussed how the foundation in genre fiction impacted the telling of the tales and impacted some of the author's choices. They nailed some things in Luisa Rey, but they seemed to ignore this in Somni when bemoaning the corporate names replacing words, which to me seemed to be a choice to specifically mimic this type of futurism.

My wife mentioned something I had not considered - that perhaps these tales are all actually works of fiction even within the novel's own universe (whatever that really is). Luisa Rey clearly is fiction, which they mention on the cast, but I had forgotten that there are hints that other stories are not entirely "true" as well.

I am going to start on Telegraph Avenue but I am concerned about the health of the cast in general given the absence of Jake.

Damn, I have a lot of things to say about the book (also in response to you), but so little time. Hopefully I'll come back to this thread in couple of days with a lengthy post.

Hey, is anybody still out there?

We skipped "Telegraph Avenue" due to its mediocre reception, and we passed on "Evidence of Things Unseen" simply due to a really hectic holiday schedule, but we did read "The Great Gatsby" and have been listening to that cast this week. I think we have about 15 minutes remaining. For anybody not following along at home, both Nick and Jake were on the Gatsby episode, which was a really nice surprise after Cloud Atlas was down to only Chris and Sean.

I'm almost ashamed to say this, but I had somehow managed to avoid reading "The Great Gatsby" in school, so I imagine I have a rather uncommon perspective on it. The Thumbs spent a lot of time in this cast talking about how people's perception of the novel is clouded by the way it's taught, and I had none of that going on at all. I noticed the symbolism, which I wouldn't say was exactly subtle, but it surely didn't dominate my experience, and the book was a surprising quick and compelling read.

I'm a faithful reader and listener. I've listened to all the casts, and read all the books. Jake is on the one for The Crying of Lot 49, along with Sean and Chris.

I've started the March book, but it's a bit early for me to have impressions yet.

I tried and failed to make it through Evidence of Things Unseen. I guess I need at least a little bit of irony and humour to help me through sometimes. I skipped out on Gatsby entirely. I wouldn't have been able to detach it from my high school experiences. Even with that, I'm still a month behind - I'm just now getting started on Crying of Lot 49.

Arise!

This podcast is allegedly back next week, with Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.

I've missed this one quite a bit.

TheCounselor wrote:

Arise!

This podcast is allegedly back next week, with Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.

I've missed this one quite a bit.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Oh god now I have to go back and finish Wolf Hall.

gore wrote:
TheCounselor wrote:

Arise!

This podcast is allegedly back next week, with Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.

I've missed this one quite a bit.

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Oh god now I have to go back and finish Wolf Hall.

Yeah, much like Sean, I've given it two shots, and have failed both times. Next month, I will succeed.

I didn't really enjoy choice of books so far and I'm at most lukewarm on Sun Also Rises (spoiler: drinking, meals, corrida, more drinking which expresses slight desperation from all of involved parties, ok prose). As a Pynchon fan, I might listen to their Pynchon episode at some point, but apart from that I never felt any attraction to follow their book conversations. I feel that what might win me over would be more eclectic, less US-centric book selections.