A “sextet for overlapping soloists” as Robert Frobisher describes his own composition, Cloud Atlas Sextet. Six stories, breaking into each other, crescendoing into the nonsense of Sloosa’s Crossing, then returning to each story to finish it out. Delightful writing, standing O from this reader.
* Adam Ewing’s seafaring diary of 1849; a notary from San Francisco, slowly poisoned by his friend the doctor in order to take over his treasure. Saved by the savage whom Ewing had saved when castaway aboard the ship.
* Letters from Zedelghem were composed by Robert Frobisher (the musical composer as well), to his friend Sixsmith. RF attaches himself to the aged composer Ayrs, leeching off his hospitality in exchange for musical secretary work. RF liberates a few volumes of Ayrs’ library for spending money, has an affair with his wife, then falls deeply and humiliatingly in love with Eva, the daughter. RF finds Adam Ewing’s journal in the chateau.
* Sixsmith is a character in the Luisa Rey Mystery, an elderly gent who gets trapped in an elevator with Rey. She investigates a local corporation for covering up its secret plan to create uranium. Definitely the fasted paced story of them all.
* The manuscript of Luisa Rey Mystery is mailed to Timothy Cavendish, the hero of the next story, who is tricked into an old folks home by his brother when thugs are after him for the royalties of their jailed brother’s novel (after he hurls his critic out the window to his death, sales skyrocket). Cavendish escapes, and his story is apparently made into a movie
* The Cavendish movie is a last request of Sonmi, the heroine of the Orison of Sonmi 451, a robot turned human.
* Sonmi is then the connection to Sloosha’s crossing, the future of the future, where redneck tribes scrape out an existence on the remaining habitable parts of the world.
Timothy Cavendish yearns for a cloud atlas:
Three or four times only in my youth did I glimpse the Joyous Isles, before they were lost to fogs, depressions, cold fronts, ill winds and contrary tides… I mistook them for adulthood. Assuming they were a fixed feature in my life’s voyage, I neglected to record their latitude, their longitude, their approach. Young ruddy fool. What wouldn’t I give now for a never-changing map of the ever-constant ineffable? To possess, as it were, an atlas of clouds.
In the Luisa Rey mystery, the joke, “Can you loan this guy $70?” from the wife of a pimp when she spots the enormous schlong on her john.
Sonmi’s first glimpse of the ocean, “… the brite spring sky’s sediment had sunk to a dark band of blue. Ah, it mesmerized me… like the snow had done. All the woe of the words “I am” seemed dissolved there, painlessly, peacefully. Hae-Joo announced, ‘The ocean.’ ”
The only part I liked in Sloosa’s Crossing was the narrator saying his voice was like a duck fart in a hurricane. Too much gangly dialect, rednecks of the future.
Robert Frobisher, the composer of Letters from Zedelghem:
Gardener made a bonfire of fallen leaves – jast came in from it. The heat on one’s face and hand, the sad smoke, the crackling and wheezing fire. Reminds me of the groundsman’s hut at Gresham. Anyway, got a gorgeous passage from the fire – percussion for crackling, alto bassoon for the wood, and a restless flute for the flames. Finished transcribing it this very minute. Air in the chateau clammy like laundry that won’t dry. Door-banging drafts down the passageways. Autumn is leaving its mellowness behind for its spiky, rotted stage. Don’t remember summer even saying good-bye.