Cloud Atlas 03 - The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing


So this is for any discussion of this story. Feel free to jump in without waiting for a prompt!

For myself, I found this story really difficult to get into, and the cutting it in half didn't help. However I got used to the anchronistic format and started to enjoy the story, although I still don't really see anything that was added by choosing it. I was also irritated with Sixsmith providing spoilers in the next story. Then I found the ending quite a shift in tone, which removed any suspension of disbelief. So not my favourite


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    When I read the book the first time, I really liked it. It sucked me right in. But I was travelling at the time and staying in a hand-made wood shack with a grass roof, and the milieu of the story matched my surrounds. This time around, I found it harder to get into. But I was much more absorbed by the second half.

    Thematically, fit seems to fit. Ewing is being taken advantage of, and the one verbal theme of ‘might makes right’ is spelled out by the end. This is echoes in the characters of the captain and the moriori.
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    The book notes acknowledge a grant that allowed Mitchell to travel to Polynesia and Hawaii. I think that sense of place comes through in the writing (but I can't see any support for the claim of common goitre in Polynesia). The first half was a decent travelogue, and highlighted that the history of the Maori is more complicated than "poor oppressed natives".

    Beyond that, I didn't get a great deal from the story.

    The story gets a bit preachy at the end, but it's also acting as a conclusion for all the stories.

    @BarnerCobblewood , what do you mean by "anachronsitic format"? It seemed to be an historical piece told through a journal. The format didn't seem incongruous to the setting.

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    I liked it, and recognised the style from other works of historical fiction I have read. In that sense it felt appropriate rather than anachronistic.

    > @BarnerCobblewood said:
    >. I was also irritated with Sixsmith providing spoilers in the next story.

    They might be considered spoilers if you were working your way through a single linear story, but surely we are not doing that here? The six stories are in one sense nested within each other, linked by a network of motifs and connections which go in both directions.

    And in another sense while nested they are also going forward in time within the successive rings. So in that sense, Sixsmith ought to know the whole previous story (whether already linearly encountered by us readers or not) and the striking feature is that he knows so little.

    Indeed, this lack of real knowledge of these past alter egos is, I think, a common thread between all the stories. Each of the inner / later rings knows a little about the previous one, but hardly anything of real accuracy.

    Something else I thought of was the circularity of geography... we start and end in the Pacific Islands, having in between gone to Europe, west-coast America, Europe again, and Korea.
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    I’m not sure I’d call a fictional character speculation on a story ‘a spoiler’. He could have been wrong, for one thing. And it’s not like you learned the facts of the story before the author revealed them.
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