So I finally watched Cloud Atlas, and didn’t quite understand it. Nor was it better than the book by David Mitchell, which I thought was a show-off. It consists of six nested stories that take the reader from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or observed) by the main character in the next. The unique style reminds me of Ital Calvino’s On A Winter’s Night, A Traveler, in which the separate stories are always interrupted at the key moment. It also mirrors the style in Ghoswritten, his first, which involves nine characters (a musician, a terrorist, a host-seeking poltergeist and so on) and nine different locales that have no formal connection to one another. All I’m saying is as novice as the style may be, it can be tiring to read. Today at the bookstore I saw Colum McCann’s new book TransAtlantic. I have read his New York City novel Let the Great World Spin and liked it better than any David Mitchell book. It also spun out a series of characters. The new book strains for similar effect. Its guiding tone could have be set by a character in his previous novel, who observes that everything in New York is built upon another thing. Two continents and 150 years are way more manageable than 2000 years with a Japanese dystopian future!