❮PDF / Epub❯ ✅ Black Swan Green Author David Mitchell – Thisbookse.co

Black Swan Green explained Black Swan Green, review Black Swan Green, trailer Black Swan Green, box office Black Swan Green, analysis Black Swan Green, Black Swan Green 047c From Award Winning Writer David Mitchell Comes A Sinewy, Meditative Novel Of Boyhood On The Cusp Of Adulthood And The Old On The Cusp Of The NewBlack Swan Green Tracks A Single Year In What Is, For Thirteen Year Old Jason Taylor, The Sleepiest Village In Muddiest Worcestershire In A Dying Cold War England, But The Thirteen Chapters, Each A Short Story In Its Own Right, Create An Exquisitely Observed World That Is Anything But Sleepy A World Of Kissingeresque Realpolitik Enacted In Boys Games On A Frozen Lake Of Nightcreeping Through The Summer Backyards Of Strangers Of The Tabloid Fueled Thrills Of The Falklands War And Its Human Toll Of The Cruel, Luscious Dawn Madden And Her Power Hungry Boyfriend, Ross Wilcox Of A Certain Madame Eva Van Outryve De Crommelynck, An Elderly Bohemian Emigr Who Is Both And Less Than She Appears Of Jason S Search To Replace His Dead Grandfather S Irreplaceable Smashed Watch Before The Crime Is Discovered Of First Cigarettes, First Kisses, First Duran Duran LPs, And First Deaths Of Margaret Thatcher S Recession Of Gypsies Camping In The Woods And The Hysteria They Inspire And, Even Closer To Home, Of A Slow Motion Divorce In Four SeasonsPointed, Funny, Profound, Left Field, Elegiac, And Painted With The Stuff Of Life, Black Swan Green Is David Mitchell S Most Subtlest And Effective Achievement To Date

  • Paperback
  • 304 pages
  • Black Swan Green
  • David Mitchell
  • English
  • 05 October 2018
  • 9780812974010

About the Author: David Mitchell

David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A in Comparative Literature He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England Afte

10 thoughts on “Black Swan Green

  1. says:

    I m about to start gushing over this book now, so look out I may end up stammering my way through this review, but if I do, just consider it a tribute to Jason Taylor.So Black Swan Green This is the first David Mitchell book I ve read but I assure you, it will not be the last I loved everything about this book I RELATED to everything about this book True, I have no idea what it s like to be a 13 year old British boy growing up in the 80 s, yet there is something so universal about this character that anyone who has gone through adolescence can probably relate to in some way or another Me I related a lot For one thing, when I was 13 I was a total tree climbing, fort making, trouble finding tomboy Not exactly the makings of a popular teenage girl And I was PAINFULLY shy I remember that feeling of just wanting to make myself as invisible as possible so that no one noticed me Because noticing me would undoubtedly lead to ridicule in some nasty form or another But Jason takes his ribbing in stride He s a good kid A likable kid A kid you find yourself rooting for You want him to get the girl You want him to beat the crap out of the jerkface bullies You want him to succeed Jason Taylor is ACE David Mitchell is ACE Black Swan Green, that s right, ACE I wish I could remember all of the glorious passages from this book, but I borrowed the dang thing from the library, and they don t take kindly to people underlining things or scribbling in the margins I jotted this bit down on a scrap of paper Jealous and sweet, this music was, sobbing and gorgeous, muddy and crystal But if the right words existed the music wouldn t need to.Sigh I didn t want this book to end I think it s the type of book that will serve you well to read at a leisurely pace Give yourself time to let the story marinate allow Jason Taylor to touch your heart You ll be glad you did.

  2. says:

    The world unmakes stuff faster than people can make it. Month by month our lives spiral forth into the future, with each moment shaping who we are and who we will become It is no wonder that the pivotal years of adolescence, the stage of development classified by Erik Erikson as the Identity vs Role Confusion stage, is fertile land for novels if the nutrients of such land has been dried up from overuse of such topics is up for debate Mitchell s Black Swan Green examines this tumultuous period of development, drawing from his own experiences at times, to track the to and fro of the formation of an identity caught in the gale storm winds of external pressures from society, politics and family drama While this may seem like something we have all read before, Mitchell manages to deliver it through one of his unique, multi faceted methods and posing this novel as the metafictional chapter of his oeuvre The structure of this book is rather exciting, with each chapter functioning nearly as a stand alone short story, ordered chronologically throughout one year of Jason Taylor s life Starting and ending in January, we watch the progression of Taylor s identity during the trying stage when social cliques are formed when one year everyone of the same gender in a class attends their peers birthday and the next year that person who invited you to their birthday won t even acknowledge you , and less than ideal physical or social traits make outliers of many youths The pressures to fit in and the aggression of those who already do cause Jason s confidence to falter, demonstrating how easily we let outside forces shape what we are inside Some of these forces are negative, yet there are many examples of positive reinforcement in the novel What works best about the structure is that each individual chapter has Jason s personal path juxtaposed with that of a larger social theme The family fallout, written with such scathing accuracy to demonstrate a failing marriage and shallow bickering that ensues, is detailed alongside the Falklands conflict, both being summed up beautifully by the sister in her explanation of a Pyrrhic victory during a family dinner Another prime example is the juxtaposition of Jason s outsider status with his peers and the hatred towards the gypsy camp that moves just outside of town.Each one of Mitchell s previous novels has a major point where he lifts up the hood and allows the reader to examine the engine driving his narrative Cloud Atlas has the multiple allusions to it s own structure, such as Frobisher explaining his sextet in a similar fashion as one would explain the novel, and number9dream had the wonderful Goatwritter tales that explored Mitchell s literary goals In Black Swan Green we have his meeting with Madame Crommelynck s and her lessons on beauty and on being an artist If you are not truthful to the world about who and what you are, your art will stink of falseness, she instructs Jason In effect, this novel is his truthful account of his life, exposing all his flaws, fears, failures and embarrassing moments in the name of truth and art There is even a brief moment where the reader witnesses the creation of a rough draft for a previous chapter The metafiction does not cease there, however, as this novel contains much of Mitchell s own life, particularly his overcoming of his stammer Ironically though, could it be seen as Mitchell still hiding behind false pretenses and using Jason as his mouthpiece, thus missing the point of Madame Crommelynck s teachings That, dear reader, is for you to decide.If each of his novels has a metafictionally revealing section, this novel serves as the metafictional novel to his oeuvre As much of BSG focuses on the dangers and consequences of people operating with a closed, or selfish mind, Mitchell shows how much of the hardships in our lives could be alleviated if people just took the time to understand each other, to shoulder the burden of taking the right path instead of the easy path that burns a lot of good people in the process He shows how those with power, such as the city council, or the nation with the stronger army, or even just the popular kids at school, will always use such power to ensure those beneath them stay there I want to bloody kick this moronic bloody world in the bloody teeth over and over till it bloody understands that not hurting people is ten bloody thousand times bloody important than being right This line from Jason echoes a message that permeates through all of Mitchell s novels In Cloud Atlas, the abuse of power is present is a primary theme in each of the novels stories, as well as in Ghostwritten to a lesser extent Even Number9dream toys with the ideas of power and the struggle for it It is as if Mitchell took the events from his own upbringing and inflated the lessons he learned to the larger scope of society and the overall human condition It could even be argued that Mitchell s own coming of age story was skewed and spun with larger literary themes into Number9dream, which further excuses him of his repeat visits to the bildungsroman theme There are several common complaints about this novel, and each one admittedly valid, yet I felt this novel still accomplished the goals set out for it and not by overlooking these shortcomings, but by trying to further understand them Mitchell often preempts his criticisms and addresses them within the novel Cloud Atlas, in particular, has Mitchell ridiculing critics in general through his slimy Miles Finch character, and addresses those who would see the book as nothing but mere gimmick While Jason Taylor is fleshed out wonderfully with a whole repitoir of English jargon and juvenile slang, the narrative is often delivered through lush descriptions, complex metaphors and an insight into his situations that come across as overly mature for a boy of 13 To assuage such criticisms, Jason is written to have a precocious sense of literature and poetry While it never comes right out and says it, his talents are hinted at being prodigious, or just so enough to reach the attention of Madame Crommelynck who is said to have a sharp eye for extreme talent she did see the genius behind the insanity in Frobisher in CA The reader can choose to accept this argument or not, however, Mitchell does not stop there in his attempts at believability Much of the lush description teeters into the territory of over writing, something that a young, unfocused writer often clings to It isn t until the end of the novel that the supposed self written tale of Jason Taylor is executed in crisper, well executed prose to demonstrate that Taylor is beginning to finally come into his own as the purveyor of truthfulness that he has been taught to be mark of the true artist Once again, the novel does rely on the acceptance of these techniques and this does not satisfy everyone Then again, I may just be an apologist since I really do appreciate Mitchell hope for his success.Mitchell s novel fall into a strange zone of literature that is both beneficial and problematic for him as an author His novels are an interesting amalgamation of easily digestible plots, literary theory, fireworks and fantastic writing This blend, which I have come to refer to as Literary Pulp, is most apparent in Cloud Atlas, and a further investigation into the terms implications can be found here Mitchell positions himself as a sort of literary gateway drug, pulling younger readers, or readers with of an inclination towards plot driven novels, into the wide wonderful wilderness of literature Perhaps this is why I forgive some of his gimmicky techniques The mind blowing big twists, ideas, structure or overall appearances of texts type of gimmicks are something that really grabs many people, particularly those referenced a moment ago Chuck Palahniuk reached fame in a similar fashion through attempting for the mind blow and other gimmicks, and while he was an author that lead me into bigger, better authors such as Don DeLillo and Pynchon, he never had enough literary flavor of his own to keep my eye on him for very long Mitchell comes across like the overly excited professor that just wants you to love books as much as he does and is willing to sacrifice some of his literary merit with the higher brow to draw in a crowd of readers who would otherwise stay away from the higher brow literature In Cloud Atlas, for example, someone who loved the Somni story is or less instructed to seek out books like Brave New World while the Adam Ewing story borrows the style of Herman Melville to turn heads his way Even in this book, Mitchell references many great writers such as T.S Elliot or Chekov, references Madame Bovary which he did in n9d as well and offers a massive listening list of a wide variety of great musicians This book would fits in nicely on a shelf for those who like higher literature, or would be just as at peace next to a book like The Perks of Being a Wallflower , however being an excellent gateway for someone of the latter category to continue a pursuit of literature Mitchell s Literary Pulp method is a great way of reaching out, but it does garner a great deal of negative criticism for doing just that As someone who hopes to go on into teaching, I find Mitchell to be a useful example of how to get people excited about books Now that he has achieved recognition, he was able to move away from the gimmicky methods to write something subdued such as BSG and Thousand Autumns I think there is a bright horizon for Mitchell if he continues to grow and push forward.Although I read this book just over six months ago, it has not left my mind and recently I have spent a great deal of time fighting back the bleakness of the factory by over analyzing this novel Spending a year with Jason Taylor really endears the reader towards David Mitchell, as they quickly realize much of the stories are based on his own life However, I would not recommend it as a first Mitchell read, seeing as it is a sort of commentary on the previous novels Even if you disliked his earlier works, I would still recommend giving this novel a try, as it is a strong departure from his usual style As the novel comes to a close, the reader sees life as a continuing spiral instead of something made of many beginnings and endings It ends on the minor key, that angsty note that demands one final chord for completion and resolution, but Mitchell leaves the readers mind to fill that note in We are left feeling things could get better, but to resolve everything would be to cheapen the story and to cheapen the actual course life takes This is not a perfect novel, and has many aspects that leave a bad taste in the mouth of many well read individuals please browse GR, there are many with better tastes and insight than I that found a lukewarm reception in this book , yet I feel that Mitchell does an excellent job of covering his tracks Simply put, and in the words of Jason Taylor, this book is ace in the face .4.5 5 Readers of Cloud Atlas will remember her as Eva, the love interest of Robert Frobisher Fans of CA are treated to an alternative perspective on Frobisher s behavior and genius Other characters that make a cameo in BSG are Neal Brose, of Ghostwritten, and Gwendolyn Bendincks, who stayed at the old folks home in CA Please forgive my shameful self promotion, but it would be far too time space consuming to revisit the argument in proper detail here The ideas of Literary Pulp are also prominent in the Goatwritter section of n9d as well I in fact recommended this book to my sister after she finished that novel, citing many similarities between the two Both deal with a coming of age, musical tastes, and overcoming personal hardships, yet BSG is accomplished without the melodramatic angst and emotion that teenagers seem to thrive on This book is also similar to Murakami w r t the constant allusions to songs, the great Murakami being a major influence on Mitchell what This review and the footnotes have been a blatant rip off of DFW Surely you Jest A Pyrrhic victory is one where you win, but the cost of winning is so high that it would ve been better if you d never bothered with the war in the first place Useful word, isn t it So, Jace Looks like we re doing the dishes again.

  3. says:

    Sometimes I look forward to reviewing a book other times it can feel like an unwanted chore, like mopping the floor This falls into the latter category Not because I didn t enjoy it I did but because I can t find much to say about it It s about a thirteen year old boy who is bullied at school As a parent boys are difficult at thirteen The spontaneity and moments of genius have retreated behind double glazing A surly self consciousness has replaced the old inclination to dig and dance and sing When before in your role as father you were made to feel like a magical deity, you re now made to feel like a traffic warden That was one thing this book made me aware of At the same time it brought back memories of when I was thirteen, only a few years before the character in this book was thirteen One thing that occurred to me was how important football was in determining popularity at school Mitchell barely mentions football If you weren t interested in football your chances of being bullied went up tenfold Mitchell s boy is bullied because he has a slight stutter What Mitchell does supremely well here is to use stuttering as a metaphor for the painful awakening of self consciousness in all adolescents thanks to Ellie for making me rethink this element of the novel Mitchell s character also writes poetry and reads The Daily Mail there s an oxymoron what thirteen year old boy reads the Daily Mail For Americans who don t know, The Daily Mail is a British newspaper which was sympathetic to the Nazis in the 1930s and hasn t changed its political perspective much over the years Anyway, apologies for writing down some random thoughts instead of writing a helpful review

  4. says:

    I have a soft spot for coming of age books So whenever I start a coming of age, I keep chanting, please be good I hate it when I don t like such story as I think they are beautiful, if written in right way, and perhaps one of the hardest kind to write It s difficult to capture the emotions of an adolescent It s such a tender age where kids are coming to terms to with life, when they try to fit in or hide away when parents let them come out of their shadows and the brutal world is trying to teach them the hard realities of world When they re clueless about whether to behave like an adult because everyone expect them to or be that carefree kid who don t give a damn about this big, bad world Black Swan Green is story of 13 year old Jason Taylor On the surface he is just an ordinary boy but as you get to know him, you find how hard he is trying to be accepted in group of popular kids He knows they re bad, they re bullies but still he wants to be a part of that gang because it ll help him attain that status which every weak kid desires Some kind of security, perhaps Too bad that he was not accepted and spent all the time to hide from those bullies who harass him whenever they find him alone They make fun of his stuttering, and alienate him But poor kid still keep going on, after all moving on is life, thinking telling himself one day things will change.If all that struggle outside home was not hard enough, he has to endure the little fights that his parents had Its kind of funny how parents think They ll hide things from you as in their opinion they re shielding you from pain because you re still a kid and unable to understand things But they ll dump everything on you later expecting you to understand and corporate They ll expect you to behave like an adult This book is semi autobiography of author and perhaps that s why he has captured the emotions of Jason so beautifully I felt happy, sad, ecstatic, scared, and love for Jason because it was just perfect A perfect read for someone like me who loves coming of age stories P.S This book is full of songs from early 70s 80s one reason to love it

  5. says:

    I think it was the summer between eighth and ninth grades that I had an absolutely hellish summer camp experience For whatever reason I got branded as the person to pick on and just about everything that I did was turned into a series of jokes at my expense I haven t thought of this experience in quite sometime, it s sort of one of those things that I just don t dwell on, but it was one of those times that seriously fucked me up Some of the taunting that Jason Taylor goes through in this book kind of reminded me of this particular time The early 80 s English world that the book takes place in is slightly different from my own experience though, maybe it s the British class thing, but the kids in this book fall into particular positions and there is little mobility out of being an insider or outsider My own particular experience was that the people tormenting were people I considered friends who turned particularly nasty, and they would swing back to being friends and back to tormentors again Thinking about many of my experiences growing up, I realize that a lot of kids I knew, especially neighborhood kids, my relationships with many of them were hazy blurs of being friendly, being at war, being friendly again, and maybe even being bullied by them And I wonder why I ve had no desire to ever seek out friends after I moved away from New Jersey.I had some mixed feelings doing into this book Besides Cloud Atlas, none of David Mitchell s books have ever called to me I mean, when I see or saw them for the first time and read what they are about I don t feel any desire to read them But, I ve enjoyed the two Mitchell books I ve read Lots of goodreads people I know just love him and they are generally people whose opinions I respect or at least I like their opinions because their opinions line up with my opinions on many book related areas, and it s only natural to think that people who agree with you are smarter than the other philistines who don t agree with you about these sorts of things, right I had bought this from the Salvation Army a couple of years back and it s been sitting on my shelf, and it happened to be sitting on the bookshelf that was next in my sort of sporadic, pick a book from the next bookshelf pile of books so that I can read books I bought at various times, instead of just reading the books I ve recently bought and ignoring the hundreds of old unread books, and because Cloud Atlas was just released as a Major Motion Picture I thought I d read some Mitchell and when I write a review I d probably get some extra attention because Mitchell is kind of hot right now So that is why I read the book And I figured a coming of age story in his hands might be interesting It was, but it was also nothing that I hadn t read before The story is a year in the life of a kid growing up in the early 1980 s It s the year of the Falkland s conflict war , something I know very little that doesn t come from Crass lyrics and images How does it feel It s the rise of Thatcher, and of continuing economic troubles in the UK Actually all of this sounds like like a Crass album Except that those things are all going on in the background, and it s about the general thing of growing up, getting picked on by your peers, about trying to figure out how to do what is right staying true to yourself and still fitting in with the cool kids or at least not getting beat up by them I probably liked the book than my three star rating would make it seem I think part of the problem was that I was expecting a interesting narrative, or structure to the story from Mitchell This was a fairly straight forward coming of age story Maybe there isn t a lot that can be done with this particular genre, but this book didn t feel like it really stood out from other movies and novels I ve consumed I think that my lowish star rating is also how I feel the book stands up to the other books of Mitchell s I ve read, and as a kind of reaction to the gushing praise that is splashed all over the front and back cover of this book This was one of the top ten books of the year by the New York Times Really Was it a slow year in literature The last couple of chapters in the book didn t help save the book for me, either I was already feeling like the book was nothing spectacular when this happened I ll save spoiling anything, but things started to feel a little unrealistic for the way things had been going in the book I d probably recommend reading something by John Green if you want to read about precious slightly loser ish teen boys navigating their adolescence But there really isn t anything wrong with this book, it just never really did much for me though Summer camp experiences for my own edification1984 One week away Almost sent home for learning how the simple joy of making a blow torch using matches and aerosol bug spray Forced to do some push ups as punishment and got screamed at a lot by some jock asshole counselor 1985 I m fairly certain I figured out how not to go to summer camp this year 1986 Went to the hellish summer camp for one week Learned what a gang bang was through an immature song my tent mate sung constantly Almost died rappelling and contracted food poisoning from eating raw chicken Also spent most of the week in the pouring rain Built character, I guess 1987 Went to the nice summer camp Woke up every morning at around 5 AM to take field notes for a merit badge, discovered a beaver dam and watched a beaver swim around every morning An enjoyable experience Learned that I don t like boats at all and I have no skill in using them except for capsizing them I also learned that playing a game where two teams fight each other in the water for control over a greased watermelon is stupid I m also inept at blowing up my clothes in the water 1988 Back to the hellish summer camp I m fairly certain that these two weeks are responsible for a host of my problems of dealing with other people as a normal person Swam a mile Crashed a motor boat Went on one of the worst trips ever I guess this built character 1989 Last year of summer camp Back to the nice camp Almost stepped on a rattlesnake.

  6. says:

    Rating 1.5 of five p66 Strike one Teenaged protagonist.Strike two, and ball one of strike three Majgicqk Or something like it.Strike three David Mitchell s writing reminds me of all the MFA program writing I ve ever read.I thought The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and Cloud Atlas were disorganized, and NO I did NOT misunderstand the fractured POV he used, I thought he did a poor job of executing it, and I found the preciosity of his phrasemaking in each of the three books I ve either read through or Pearl Ruled unpleasant to the point of actual snort of derision coming out of me as I read.I don t think he s a good writer, I don t like the story he told here which has nothing to do with him, only to do with my response , and I won t be reading stuff like this The first torrent of vomit kicked a GUUURRRRRR noise out of me, and poured on the muddy grass In the hot slurry were bits of prawn and carrot Some d got n my splayed fingers It was warm as warm rice pudding More was coming, Inside my eyelids was a Lambert and Butler cigarette sticking out of its box, like in an advert The second torrent was a mustardier yellow I guppered for fresh oxygen like a man in an airlock Prayed that was the last of it Then came three short, boiling subslurries, slicker and sweeter, as if composed of the Baked Alaska.If you can make a kid puking tedious, brother, you can make ANYthing tedious And he does Poke me with a fork, I m done This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

  7. says:

    I have failed to understand why this novel is sometimes disregarded even by Mitchell s admirers Because Mitchell accustomed us with his earlier works to something bizarre and flamboyant Because Black Swan Green is so ordinary Adolescence is a real torture, especially for sensitive, smart but morbidly lacking of self confidence one And so Jason is Thirteen year old from some jerkwater town, struggling with own deficiencies and fears In some respects Jason has really rough times he s stammering and at all costs attempts to hide it before schoolmates, besides, horror of horrors he s writing poems, what is considered as well, writing poems is what creeps and poofters do It s so easy to become an object of mockery.In his home there is no better, bad relationships with older sister and hanging over head parents divorce And all this in Thatcher s England, times of recession, with the ongoing absurd Falklands war in the background.This traditional story captivates by its simplicity Nuanced, amusing and compassionate at the same time Accurate and irresistibly funny description of adults sarcastic mother, intelligently mischievous sister, snobbish uncle, ironic cousin Hugo The tragicomic deliberations on whom stutterer can become, as for sure not a lawyer, maybe a lighthouse keeper Soliciting for recognition in the peer group, dread of rejection and to be an object of ridicule and bullying described with tact and humour.Thirteen, wonderfully unhappy age Neither child nor teenager Black Swan Green then is a poignant, bitter sweet farewell to childhood.

  8. says:

    David Mitchell is known for dazzling innovation and dizzying ambition Intricately structured novels such as Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten are grand kaleidoscopes of intersecting voices and places This book is a change of pace, however It focuses on a single character in a single location But despite its narrowed scope, it is no less powerful or captivating than his other works.Jason Taylor is our hero, a thirteen year old boy in the sleepy middle class town of Black Swan Green, Worcestershire On the surface all is well he is a clever kid who has had poetry published in a local magazine, his family live in a wealthy estate and he has a loyal best friend in Dean Moran But trouble is bubbling underneath He is struggling to fit in at school, his stammer is becoming worse and lately his parents don t seem to be getting on with each other And that s not to mention the ever present threat of bullies, plus the head scratching mystery of girls 1982 will prove to be a tumultuous year in Jason s life and we have a front row seat.It seems quite a personal tale, in some aspects at least Mitchell grew up in a similar Worcestershire town and would have been the same age as Jason at this time He has also spoken openly about his own struggles with a speech impediment Jason refers to the mental block he experiences when speaking as a Hangman which robs him of his words The intense anguish and embarrassment it causes him is extremely moving It opened my eyes to the trauma and suffering that a person with a speech disorder goes through Mitchell has described this book as a kind of catharsis for him I d probably still be avoiding the subject today had I not outed myself by writing a semi autobiographical novel, Black Swan Green, narrated by a stammering 13 year old We ve all encountered coming of age stories before but this one is different It understands the true anxieties of adolescence better than anything else I ve read It s also a love letter to the early 80s and Mitchell clearly remembers this period fondly, with myriad references to The Rockford Files, Big Trak, Angel Delight and the like It makes me pine for a innocent time, when simple pleasures were enough to satisfy, instead of the hyper connected world we now live in Black Swan Green is a nostalgic delight, a gorgeous and vibrant account of that volatile first teenage year.

  9. says:

    Just as I opened the cover of the book, I was hit by a barrage of praise for the book comments May be I should have stopped right there But I didn t Hence this review.When I watch a Hollywood movie or a TV show involving American schools, I see schoolkids overly concerned with social status and pecking order There are these popular and cool kids, then there are nerds and other such stereotypes They have to constantly worry about whose parties they get invited to, who they are seen talking to in public, what table they sit at during lunch, which co curricular activities they participate in It s their coolness points that are stake here If you don t wear make up or fancy clothes, no one wants to talk to you If you are fat or wear braces, you are at risk of being an outcast.Geez, kids Take it easy, will ya Who is teaching these kids to be so class conscious Who is teaching them to be so judgmental and critical of each other that too based on superficial factors Who is teaching them that they need to try to be someone they are not Why can t kids just be kids I once asked some of my American colleagues if their school lives were anything like what they show in movies They told me that what they show in movies is highly exaggerated As expected But some kind of social hierarchy can be seen, however vaguely, in real life schools too Our school life was just so different Admittedly it has changed a bit by now, given I have been out of high school for almost 10 years But things were, and are, so much simpler.And I wish they would be simple for Jason too I understand him being conscious about his stammer But I wish he didn t have to worry about being a social pariah for being a stammerer And why don t his parents even attempt to make him feel comfortable and assure him that at least at home he doesn t need to feel shy His dad s face turns a shade darker if the topic of stammering comes up His mom talks about it in hushed tones to Aunt Alice By avoiding the topic, the only message they are sending across is that they are embarrassed by Jason s problem and so should be Jason.Poor Jace the ace I have all the sympathy for Jason, as will any other reader Because Mitchell didn t leave us any other choice If the characters aren t complex, the reader s emotional response to them is pretty much pre defined Jason is just a western adolescent boy, trying to be a regular western adolescent boy and a bunch of problems befall him through no fault of his own What is a reader going to say Take that, you ape Nope.And all the middle school drama no thanks Right off the bat, Jason establishes the social order There are these rules about how you don t say no to cigarette if an upper class kid offers it to you You can t say no to playing a game you hate, because that makes you look weak There are detailed scenes about one schoolkid fighting another Haven t we heard this story so many times before This has to be one of the better written books on this topic though I liked Mitchell s writing, but he needs to decide if it is a 13 year old boy who is narrating or a 35 year old man The narrator is too eloquent and insightful for a 13 year old I would give Mitchell the benefit of the doubt and assume that it s the adult Jason who is narrating the 13th year of this life But then he keeps using teenage slang too Well.

  10. says:

    A Spelling TestI kept this book on the shelf for a few years, before thinking I was ready to read it I didn t want to break the spell of the first two David Mitchell books that I had read I didn t really like Cloud Atlas and I was a bit apprehensive about the subject matter of a young teenage boy Ultimately, it was very much a book of two halves for me Teenage Mates LandThe first half captured male teenagerdom in the period in the 60 s and 70 s when I grew up and the 80 s when Jason grew up perfectly It was the tail end of a period of Empire, Britannia Rules the Waves, Scouting for Boys, Biggles books and playing British Bulldog It had nearly died by the time of Punk Rock for me, but it had one last inglorious revival when Maggie Thatcher invaded the Falklands, before deflating altogether, so much so that Tony Blair couldn t even revive it.Teenage WastelandThe trouble and the troubles set in in the second half Things start to challenge the relative security of Jason s adolescent world view Girls, gangs, crime, conflict, insecurity, parental estrangement, divorce.Teenage Resolution The problem is that the two halves are juxtaposed, but not sewn together in a narrative that resolves them in any way It s like a photo album with two photos of the one boy at different ages In one, he s fresh faced and enthusiastic, in the next he s pimply and troubled The reader might know or guess what comes next, but David Mitchell stops short of telling us I can t help thinking that, if Jason was important enough to care about, David Mitchell could have finished off the story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *