And to all a very good night. I hope you are as full of love and good food as I am today.
Black Swan Green, David Mitchell
Lotta hoopla these days about David Mitchell since Cloud Atlas got adapted into a film. Because Cloud Atlas is one of my favorite novels, and one I serially reread, I decided I ought to try something new by Mitchell.
Black Swan Green is not very much like Cloud Atlas, but it’s just as good. Instead of the sprawling, cross-generational scope of the latter, this novel focuses tightly on one year in the adolescence of Jason Taylor, in Cold War England. But the language is just as textured, his landscape as richly detailed. It’s easy to identify with the shy, but passionate Jason, and fascinating how British 1980s small-town goings-on become every bit as cinematic and sweeping as world dramas. Jason’s struggles with his speech impediment create another vivid character as he personifies and interacts with his stammer in daily life.
Mitchell hasn’t fallen into that trap of creating an teenager who really sounds much more like a brilliant adult trying to pretend adolescence. Jason offers the reader a fresh, but very believable, take on the childhood social order and his family dynamics. Though his intelligence is clear, he’s not pretentious. There’s not a whit of Mitchell’s trademark experimentalism here, but I loved hanging out with Jason, and I suspect you will also.