First post, since the launch, written all the way from Puerto Rico! I finally got around to finishing The Bone Clocks on the flight over and with that comes my very first book review.
This one was written in 2014 by British writer David Mitchell, same author as Cloud Atlas. I first came across his work when I was in search of authors similar to Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite magical realism authors. If you’re not familiar with magical realism, it involves plots where a majority of what goes on is similar to everyday real life, with sprinkles of magical or the super natural throughout. Imagine Harry Potter from the muggles perspective or a dream that seems entirely real with occasional inexplicable elements weaved in.
The Bone Clocks is written around the main character, Holly Sykes, and is told from the perspective of five narrators including Holly herself. The peculiar seems to follow Holly and those that are close to her throughout her life due to a parallel plot of an invisible war of good vs evil. The book is a mysterious puzzle that keeps you wondering until the very last piece is placed and the complete masterpiece is revealed.
One of my favorite things about Mitchell and Murakami, is that they theme a lot of their works to either classical or popular folk and rock music. Below is the playlist that Mitchell themed to Bones Clocks and also includes some songs he felt one of the narrators would have listened to.
Music for a Lost Horologist: A Bone Clocks Playlist (*A horologist is a watchmaker or someone who studies time)
- Sonata in D- Minor, K. 32, by Domenico Scarlatti, performaed by Michael Lewin
- “Heaven” by Talking Heads
- Andante Festivo by Jean Sibelius
- “As I Went Out One Morning” by Bob Dylan
- Prelude and Fugue No. 7 in A, Op. 87 by Dmitri Shostakovich, performed by Vladimir Ashkenazy
- “3 A.M. Eternal (Blue Danube Orbital Mix)” by The KLF
- “Hymn to the Virgin” by Benjamin Britten
- “Whistman’s Wood” by John Surman
- Walking on Thin Ice (Peter Rauhofer Chill Mix)” by Yoko Ono
- “Hughe Ashton’s Ground” by William Byrd, performed by Glenn Gould
- “She Moved Through the Fair” by Fairport Convention
- “Un Dia De Noviembre” by Leo Brouwer, performed by Zsofia Boros
- “Your Only Friend” by Phuture
- “Schubertiade: Der Wanderer”, performed by Michael Wollny
- “Casta Diva” from Bellini’s Norma, performed by Maria Callas (Featured)
- “Dream Song” by Erik Friedlander
- “Memories Can’t Wait” by Talking Heads
- Sonata in D-Minor, K. 9, by Domenico Scarlatti, performed by Chika Nishiwaki
Featured is “Casta Diva”, a classical opera song. I love to play opera or classical when I am reading or working on a project. There is something about the instrumentals that move me and make me feel more creative. This thought reminds me of a passage I highlighted in the book regarding the humanity behind a writer’s space and their creative process.
“Writer’s don’t write in a void. We work in a physical space, a room, ideally in a house like Laxness’s Gljufrasteinn, but we also write within an imaginative space. Amid boxes, crates, shelves, and cabinets full of…junk, treasure, both cultural – nursery rhymes, mythologies, histories, what Tolkein called the ‘compost heap’; and also personal stuff – childhood TV, homegrown cosmologies, stories we hear first from our parents, or later from our children – and crucially, maps. Mental maps. Maps with edges. And for Auden, for so many of us, it’s the edges of the maps that fascinate…”
We are all writers in our own right, whether it be what is written, what we think or what we say. We create mental maps from our experiences that become our individual expressions and define our lives. It’s in the edges of these maps and in life where the magic lies. These edges house a certain level of wonder and uncertainty that force us to peer out into the unknown and motivate us to seek more. In a way that is what Mitchell has done with The Bone Clocks – each narrator with their own mental map and edges where experiences overlap, slowly piecing together the puzzle and bringing meaning to the unknown.