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So, folks – how’s it coming so far? A little bit of a rocky start here on my end, but still full steam ahead. I was anticipating this sense of overwhelming confusion and the “wtf’s” while reading, as I felt similarly when starting The Bone Clocks.
Of course, BEWARE OF SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
Section 1: The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing
I liken this reading experience to my first semester of nursing school, which was very competitive and one had to apply and be selected to continue on. The first semester was filled with the most grueling and challenging of courses, in an attempt (I think) to weed out those who weren’t fully committed. That is what this first section felt like to me – if you can make it through that with out abandoning it completely, you’re golden.
The story is told, as the section titles suggests, in a series of journal entries written by Adam Ewing, in 1850 awaiting on an island of “cannibals” for the ship Prophetess to be repaired, and then aboard said ship. The entries begin, in what seems to be smack dab in the middle of a story, leaving the reader trying to figure out the setting, as well as catch up to the already unwinding plot.
I was struck in the section most, by the degree to which human beings need other human beings. Autua needed Adam to save him from being killed via shark infested waters; and Adam needed Dr.Goose (so he thought) to, in turn, save HIM from the parasite turning his brain to gelatinous mush.
Let’s discuss the ending of this section:
Sabbath not being observed on the Prophetess, this morning Henry & I decided to conduct a short Bible Reading in his cabin in the “low-church” style of Ocean Bay’s congregation, “astraddle” the forenoon & morning watches so both starboard & port shifts might
Anyone else flipping pages back and forth wondering if some fell out…? Let’s consider what we know:
- Adam was, as he believed to be, ill from a tropical parasite.
- Dr. Henry Goose, desiring no payment for services, agrees to nurse him back to health himself, but warns Adam not to share his ailment with anyone else, as they are likely to become fearful of contracting his disease and decide to do him in. Secrets, secrets.
- Dr. Henry Goose is pharmaceutical-izing up some classified concoction, of which in the wrong amount is deadly, but in the right amount is curative. Tricky, tricky.
- Adam, at the end of this section, appears to mysteriously stop writing for one reason or another – distraction? illness? sudden death? dropped his pencil? journal fell into the sea?
Section 2: Letters from Zedelghem
Ahhhh, second semester stride. I think we can all agree, this section was MUCH easier to read.
Told in the form of letters, from one, Robert Frobisher – a young man down on his luck financially, recently kicked out of school, yet seems to be musically inclined – to someone he pens as Sixsmith. In his attempt to flee debt collecting thugs, Robert escapes out the window of his hotel – and is debating his future, and how he will swindle someone, or several someones, out of money, lodging, and the general necessities of life. There is suggestion of Sixsmith writing letters and sending telegrams in return, of which we the readers are not privy to.
A cooperation is agreed upon, and Robert finds himself working with a musical idol of his, and living in his home as an apprentice of sorts. He makes himself at home by carrying on an affair with the lady of the house, and stealing some stuff to sell for a pretty penny. He decides to pilfer a few books, and stumbles upon none other than the journal of one, Adam Ewing, which was posthumously published by his son. The copy he finds has been torn into two, with the other half missing, and as he is intrigued, Robert writes to Sixsmith to attempt to track down a complete copy.
And thus, the intricate web of connections begins to be spun by Mitchell’s brilliant spider fingers… The half journal mentioned in this section, leads me to wonder…. did we only get to read half the story in section 1, as well? It would make a lot of sense…. no?
A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.
And what of Eva? Robert is clearly taken with her on some level, but maybe it’s about the chase:
Why is it I never met a boy I couldn’t twist round my finger (not only my finger) but the women of Zedelghem seem to best me every time?
I was a bit disappointed in the lack of development there… But maybe the seed has just been planted, and we have to wait around for Mitchell to water it in later sections…
So, readers, what are your thoughts up to this point? What do you think of the fate of poor Adam? Do you think we’ve seen the last of Eva? How do you feel about Mitchell’s varying writing styles in each section so far?
Don’t forget to go check out April’s thoughts, and link up your posts below. (Click to add your post and view others’ posts as well.)