Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Black Swan Green

I may have lived in Hong Kong at the time, but my adolesence and schooling was as quintessentially English as they come. It's perhaps for that reason that Black Swan Green struck several poignant chords with me. Memories (the vast majority of them very fond ones) of P.E. lessons and playground games of British Bulldogs came flooding back. I can almost feel the cuts, scrapes and bruises when AB sent me sliding across the concrete and into a partially barbed fence - all part of the game, of course!

The tale of typical adolescent angst, set in a truly nondescript English village, is constructed as a series of entertaining vignettes, each independent, yet threaded together to span a calendar year in which a teenager has his life turned upside down and inside out from every angle, and yet manages to somehow use it all to come of age, as such.

Much like The Essence of the Thing, at the end of the book, I wasn't entirely sure what it was about, given that there wasn't much that you couldn't see coming after the first chapter. And yet once again, I was hooked, read it cover to cover, and was entertained throughout.

Many critics panned it as being too conventional a tome, and consequently overly ambitious for David Mitchell - ostensibly paradoxical, but then I haven't had the pleasure of reading his prior work. As far as I'm concerned, it did more than enough to hint at, without fully revealing, an exceptional literary talent, and the reputedly more complex and more cerebral Cloud Atlas has found a place on my wish list as a result.

P.S. - for those who are wondering, I'm not turning this into a book-blog per se. Lots of work-related travel of late has left me with little time for spending online reading and blogging about the usual stuff.

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