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Ghostwritten (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

David Mitchell
4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)

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Descriptions du produit

"What is real and what is not?" David Mitchell's Ghostwritten: A Novel in Nine Parts plays with precisely this question throughout its elaborately compartmentalized narrative. (That there are 10 chapters in this 9-part invention is just one more aspect of the author's mysterious schema.) With its multitude of voices and globe-girdling locations--Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Petersburg, London--this first novel offers readers a vertiginous, sometimes seductive, display of persona and place.

At the heart of Mitchell's book is the global extension of the postmodern city, and the networks (cultural, technological, phantasmagoric) to which it gives rise. A metropolis like Tokyo is quite literally beyond our comprehension:

Twenty million people live and work in Tokyo. It's so big that nobody really knows where it stops. It's long since filled up the plain, and now it's creeping up the mountains to the west and reclaiming land from the bay in the east. The city never stops rewriting itself. In the time one street guide is produced, it's already become out of date. It's a tall city, and a deep one, as well as a spread-out one.
At this level, urban sprawl becomes an epistemological condition. On one hand it leads to a Japanese death cult, purging the "unclean" from the city's subway with nerve gas. And on the other, it produces a certain splintering of the human personality. "I'm this person, I'm this person, I'm that person, I'm that person too," chants Neal, the narrator of the book's second part. "No wonder it's all such a ... mess." He's talking about his life as a Hong Kong trader, a "man of departments, compartments, apartments." But he might also be describing the experience of reading Ghostwritten. At once loquacious and knowing, leisurely and frantic, Mitchell offers a huge, but fragmentary, portmanteau. And while he's labored diligently to solder together the many parts--the aching bodies, the reality police, the impossibly complex machinery of contemporary life--his novel, too, may suffer from an excess of split personality. --Vicky Lebeau


Who was blowing on the nape of my neck?
I swung around. The tinted glass doors hissed shut. The light was bright. Synthetic ferns swayed, very gently, up and down the empty lobby. Nothing moved in the sun-smacked car park. Beyond, a row of palm trees and the deep sky.
I swung around. The receptionist was still waiting, offering me her pen, her smile as ironed as her uniform. I saw the pores beneath her make-up, and heard the silence beneath the muzak, and the rushing beneath the silence.
"Kobayashi. I called from the airport, a while ago. To reserve a room." Pinpricking in the palms of my hands. Little thorns.
"Ah, yes, Mr. Kobayashi. . ." So what if she didn't believe me? The unclean check into hotels under false names all the time. To fornicate, with strangers. "If I could just ask you to fill in your name and address here, sir ... and your profession?"
I showed her my bandaged hand. "I'm afraid you'll have to fill the form in for me."
"Certainly ... My, how did that happen?"
"A door closed on it."
She winced sympathetically, and turned the form around. "Your profession, Mr. Kobayashi?"
"I'm a software engineer. I develop products for different companies, on a contract-by-contract basis."
She frowned. I wasn't fitting her form. "I see, no company as such, then . . ."
"Let's use the company I'm working with at the moment." Easy. The Fellowship's technology division will arrange corroboration.
"Fine, Mr. Kobayashi...Welcome to the Okinawa Garden Hotel."
"Thank you."????????
"Are you visiting Okinawa for business or for sightseeing, Mr. Kobayashi?" ????????
Was there something quizzical in her smile? Suspicion in her face?
"Partly business, partly sightseeing. "I deployed my alpha control voice.
"We hope you have a pleasant stay. Here's your key, sir. Room 307. If we can assist you in any way, please don't hesitate to ask."
You? Assist me? "Thank you."
Unclean, unclean. These Okinawans never were pureblooded Japanese. Different, weaker ancestors. As I turned away and walked toward the elevator, my ESP told me she was smirking to herself. She wouldn't be smirking if she knew the caliber of mind she was dealing with. Her time will come, like all the others.
Not a soul was stirring in the giant hotel. Hushed corridors stretched into the noontime distance, empty as catacombs.
There's no air in my room. Use of air-conditioning is prohibited in Sanctuary because it impairs alpha waves. To show solidarity with my brothers and sisters, I switched it off and opened the windows. The curtains I keep drawn. You never know whose telephoto lens might be looking in.
I looked out into the eye of the sun. Naha is a cheap, ugly city. But for the background band of Pacific aquamarine this city could be any tentacle of Tokyo. The usual red-and-white TV transmitter, broadcasting the government's subliminal command frequencies. The usual department stores rising like windowless temples, dazzling the unclean into compliance. The urban districts, the factories pumping out poison into the air and water supplies. Fridges abandoned in wastegrounds of lesser trash. What grafted-on pieces of ugliness are their cities! I imagine the New Earth sweeping this festering mess away like a mighty broom, returning the land to its virginal state. Then the Fellowship will create something we deserve, which the survivors will cherish for eternity.
I cleaned myself and examined my face in the bathroom mirror. You are one such survivor, Quasar. Strong features, highlighting my samurai legacy. Ridged eyebrows. A hawkish nose. Quasar, the harbinger. His Serendipity had chosen my name prophetically. My role was to pulse at the edge of the universe of the faithful, alone in the darkness. An outrider. A herald.
The extractor fan droned. Somewhere beyond its drone I could hear a little girl, sobbing. So much sadness in this twisted world. I began shaving.
I awoke early, not remembering where I was for the first few moments. Jigsaw pieces of my dream lay dropped around. There had been Mr. Ikeda, my home-room teacher from high school, and two or three of the worst bullies. My biological father had appeared too. I remembered that day when the bullies had got everyone in the class to pretend that I was dead. By afternoon it had spread through the whole school. Everyone pretended they couldn't see me. When I spoke they pretended they couldn't hear me. Mr. Ikeda got to hear about it, and as a society-appointed guardian of young minds what did he take it upon himself to do? The bastard conducted a funeral service for me during the final home-room hour. He'd even lit some incense, and led the chanting, and everything.
Before His Serendipity lit my life I was defenseless. I sobbed and screamed at them to stop, but nobody saw me. I was dead.
After awakening, I found I was tormented with an erection. Too much gamma wave interference. I meditated under my picture of His Serendipity until it had subsided.
If it's funerals the unclean want, they shall have them aplenty, during the White Nights, before His Serendipity rises to claim his kingdom. Funerals with no mourners.
I walked down the Kokusai Dori, the main street of the city, doubling back and weaving off to lose anybody who was trailing me. Unfortunately my alpha potential is still too weak to achieve invisibility, so I have to shake trailers the old-fashioned way. When I was sure nobody was following me I ducked into a games center and placed a call from a telephone booth. Public call boxes are much less likely to be bugged.
"Brother, this is Quasar. Please connect me with the minister of defense."
"Certainly, brother. The minister is expecting you. Permit me to congratulate you on the success of our recent mission."
I was put on hold for a couple of moments. The minister of defense is a favorite of His Serendipity's. He graduated from the Imperial University. He was a judge, before hearing the call of His Serendipity. He is a born leader. "Ah, Quasar. Excellent. You are in good health?"
"On His Serendipity's service, Minister, I always enjoy good health. I have overcome my allergies, and for nine months I haven't suffered from-"
"We are delighted with you. His Serendipity is mightily impressed with the depth of your faith. Mightily impressed. He is meditating on your anima now, in his retreat. On yours alone, for fortification and enrichment."
"Minister! I beg you to convey my deepest thanks."
"Gladly. You've earned it. This is a war against the unclean myriad, and in this war acts of courage do not go unacknowledged, nor unrewarded. Now. You'll be wondering how long you are to remain away from your family. The Cabinet believes seven days will suffice."
"I understand, Minister." I bowed deeply.
"Have you seen the television reports?"
"I avoid the lies of the unclean state, Minister. For what snake would willingly heed the voice of the snakecharmer? Even though I am away from Sanctuary, His Serendipity's instructions are inscribed in my heart. I imagine we have caused a stir among the hornets."
"Indeed. They are talking about terrorism, showing the unclean foaming at the mouth. The poor animals are almost to be pitied-almost. As His Serendipity predicted, they are missing the point that it is their sins being visited on their heads. Be proud, Quasar, that you were one of the chosen ministers of justice! The 39th Sacred Revelation: Pride in one's sacrifice is not a sin but selfrespect. Keep a low profile, nonetheless. Blend in. Do a little sightseeing. I trust your expense account will suffice?"
"The treasurer was most generous, and my needs are simple."
"Very good. Contact us again in seven days. The Fellowship looks forward to welcoming our beloved brother home."
I returned to the hotel for my midday cleaning and meditation. I ate some crackers, seaweed snacks and cashew nuts, and drank green tea from a vending machine outside my room. When I went out again after lunch the unclean receptionist gave me a map, and I chose a tourist spot to visit.
The Japanese naval headquarters was set in a scrubby park at the top of a hill overlooking Naha, to the north. During the war it had been so well hidden that it took the invading Americans three weeks after they had seized Okinawa to stumble across it. The Americans are not a very bright race. They miss the obvious. Their embassy had the effrontery to deny His Serendipity a residence visa ten years ago. Now, of course, His Serendipity can come and go where he pleases using subspace conversion techniques. He has visited the White House several times, unhindered.
I paid for my ticket and went down the steps. The dim coolness welcomed me. A pipe somewhere was dripping. There was one more surprise waiting for the American invaders. In order to die an honorable death, the full contingent of four thousand men had taken their own lives. Twenty days previously.
Honor. What does this frothy, idol-riddled world of the unclean know of honor? Walking through the tunnels I stroked the walls with my fingertips. I stroked the scars on the wall, made by the grenade blasts and the picks that the soldiers had used to dig their stronghold, and I felt true kinship with them. The same kinship I feel at Sanctuary. With my enhanced alpha quotient, I was picking up on their anima residue. I wandered the tunnels until I lost track of the time.
As I left that memorial to nobility a coachload of tourists arrived. I took one look at them, with their cameras and potato-chip packets and their stupid Kansai expressions and their limbless minds with less alpha capacity than a housefly, and I wished that I had one more phial of the cleansing fluid left, so that I could lob it down the stairs after them and lock them in. They would be cleansed in the same way that the money-blinded of Tokyo had been cleansed. It would have appeased the souls of the young soldiers who had died for their beliefs decades ago, as I had been ready to do only seventy-two hours ago. They were betrayed by the puppet governments that despoiled our land after the war. As have we all been betrayed by a society evolving into markets for Disney and McDonald's. All that sacrifice, to build what? To build an unsinkable aircraft carrier for the United States.
But I had no phials left, and so I had to endure those unclean, chattering, defecating, spawning, defiling, cretins. Literally, they made me gasp for air.
I walked back down the hill under the palm trees.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 563 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 444 pages
  • Editeur : Hodder & Stoughton; Édition : 2 (2 octobre 2008)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0340739754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340739754
  • ASIN: B002V091FW
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 The North, South, East, and West line 19 mai 2001
This is David Mitchell's debut novel, and it has received some lively reviews. It's an ambitious book, which goes from East to West. Ghostwritten seems to follow an Edward Rutherfurd format: nine individual stories that are subtly linked. It's like the Six Degrees of Separation or the Kevin Bacon game, whereby everybody on the planet is linked much more closely to each other than we would have ever imagined. Half the fun of Ghostwritten is trying to spot references from all the other stories. Despite having such seemingly random stories, Ghostwritten does follow quite a strict chronology. There's also a slight element of the ballad in these pleasing repetitions and hooks.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.2 étoiles sur 5  173 commentaires
73 internautes sur 77 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A fearless feast of a book 18 décembre 2000
Par Lynn Harnett - Publié sur
Ambitious, complex, and intriguing, Mitchell's first novel grapples with the paradox of a small, vast world. His nine interlocking chapters (plus a tenth which circles back to the first) are narrated by a disparate lot from around the globe, connected sometimes by only a glimpse and a fleeting thought, sometimes by more fateful encounters. As the book proceeds, more connections become apparent, most of them random.
It's an intriguing organization, best followed by reading the book in one sitting, so as to keep track of the various plot threads and people. However, at 426 pages, this is unlikely for most readers.
But Mitchell's novel is more than a philosophical play on fate and chance and the six degrees of separation that radiate from us in all directions. The novel is filled with real characters, some venal and pathetic, some appealing, a few remote, one repellant. The settings range from self-consciously contemporary Hong Kong and earnest, teeming Tokyo to a tight-knit island off the Irish coast, the Mongolian desert, a remote Chinese mountain, a late-night radio station in New York, the streets of London and the bleak underside of post-Soviet St. Petersburg.
One narrator is a bent lawyer haunted (literally) by the ghost of a little girl, a pawn to his own greed, trapped by his estranged wife, his rapacious Chinese maid and his high-powered, crooked employer. Another is a self-deluded Russian woman, trying to escape her life by a big score in stolen art. The book opens with the fervid ramblings of a Japanese cult fanatic, a terrorist who planted poison gas on a Tokyo subway, and closes with the same or similar narrator.
A young musician and writer in London, whose life is adrift, saves a stranger from being rundown by a taxi, drifts some more, then makes the big decision he's been wrestling with all along. A young jazz musician in Tokyo, also adrift, makes a leap for love. A brilliant physicist whose discoveries are used in the Gulf War flees home to Ireland but is forced to succumb to the strong arm of the American military.
Some chapters are more successful than others. Which these are, however, is a matter of taste. The writing soars energetically throughout but styles, moods, even genres vary. Mitchell employs ghosts, apocalyptic scenarios, sociopathic thugs both criminal and sanctioned, as well as ordinary longings, ambitions, loves and failures.
An old Chinese woman narrates my favorite chapter. Her long and eventful life is lived entirely around her tea shack on a rural mountain path leading to a Buddhist temple. Here she is raped by a warlord and abused and despised by her lazy father. The Japanese invasion comes to her mountain and then the Chinese Nationalists, the Communists and the cadres of the Cultural Revolution each in turn bring violence and destruction to her life and livelihood. And each time she rebuilds her shack. She finds solace and companionship in a speaking tree and grows wise in the ways of the world without ever venturing into it. Hers is a marvelous voice, sharp without being hard, sardonic but never jaded, full of life and wit and complexity.
Another favorite is the chapter that follows, in which a transmigrating spirit goes on a pilgrimage to discover its origin and meaning. The spirit moves from person to person by touch and crosses Mongolia in pursuit of a folktale, inhabiting a Western tourist, a suspicious old peasant woman, a shaman, a vicious killer and more. Exploring the human psyche, it struggles to do no harm but its own goal remains paramount. Delightfully strange.
As for flaws: some characters are less well developed than others and the apocalyptic elements are jarring and unconvincing. The penultimate chapter brings us to the brink of World War III which may have been brought on by a well-meaning artificial (possibly) intelligence with godlike access to our technology. The transition from explorations of human nature, connections and chance to a sci-fi parable is unconvincing at best.
But Mitchell writes with the confidence of an artist with no fear. He will try anything, no matter how fantastic or mundane. His writing switches from displays of virtuosity to sober meditation, his point-of-view from intimate exchange to global conspiracy.
An excellent, engaging book, sure to attract as much criticism as praise, which is by no means a bad thing.
83 internautes sur 91 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Almost great 30 juillet 2004
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
About half-way through this book, I was starting to believe this would be a great book. I don't just mean good; I mean great. The author has a tremendous gift for narrative, with many descriptions and phrases that would inspire both awe and envy in anyone who appreciates the mechanics of writing. The characters are vividly drawn so that the reader cares about each one, which is no mean feat considering the range of characters involved - including one who is impossible to like and one who's not even human. Best of all, the slow emergence of links between what at first seem totally unrelated storylines is done to perfection. I was in heaven.

Then I hit the last two chapters. Where I had come to expect magic, as all of the storylines finally converge, I got...what? Very suddenly, with only the most tenuous connection to the rest of the story, this non-point-of-view character with tremendous power appears, as though the author just read about "deus ex machina" and decided to give it a very literal interpretation. Then one of the characters who had actually drawn our sympathy earlier, who had been most central to the converging storylines, gets dispatched in an almost offhand way. Many of the connections established before are just left hanging, as though someone had punched a huge hole through the just-woven fabric of the story up to that point. I can almost see the author losing energy or interest, after the painstaking effort to craft the earlier chapters, and slapping the rest together just to be done with it. Maybe an overzealous editor was involved.

However you look at it, though, the ending can only disappoint. I have never seen such an immensely promising book take such a precipitous nosedive at the end. I would seriously recommend that readers read revel in the the marvelous though incomplete story up to that cutoff point, and then stop instead of ruining the experience by reading the rest.
27 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 More Than a Ghost 11 février 2002
Par Kathy Turner Meyer - Publié sur
I did something with this book that I have never done before. I finished reading the last line of the book, closed it, took a long breath, and opened it right back up again to page one and began rereading. The only difference was for the second reading, I took copious notes to accurately map the story and the layers of people and places which make this book so wonderful. It was the only way to really absorb the minutiae of detail that collectively makes up the whole book.
I imagine many readers were turned off by the intensity and layering of the detail, but I thrived on it. For me, the denser, more intricate the storyline, the happier I am, and I must say this book made me happier than any other book that I have read in some time for that specific reason.
Each chapter is a story unto itself, and yet each story is tied to the others by layers of small detail. It was a stroke of genius on Mitchell's part to structure the book as he did. Chapter ten, the last chapter, detailed Quasar's act of terrorism in the Tokyo underground, but the action actually took place before the opening of chapter one. Quasar, the mentally unbalanced cult follower, experiences in his final moments on the train all the clues to the stories of the lives depicted in the previous chapters. This construction allowed Mitchell to tie together, in just a few paragraphs, all the loose ends that plagued each separate story. Very effective.
I could go one at length about the richness of the layered stories and how one life is unknowingly built on the basis of another, and how Mitchell helps the reader through constructive symbolism to understand the basis of human interaction and interdependence. Bat Segundo (ch. 9) plays Satoru's (ch. 2) tenor sax piece on his radio show, how both Neal Brose (ch. 3) and Roy (ch. 7) make a mess in the kitchen by using two coffee filters in their machines, Quasar (ch. 1) and Mo Muntervary (ch. 8) both describe the world as a sick zoo, and everyone felt the breath on the nape of their necks. It is the clever layering of such detail that propels the story forward, and occasionally backward. The introduction of the noncarpum (ch. 5) seemed initially to be the element to tie the stories, but it wasn't. It was the human interaction that kept the story active, not unlike real life.
47 internautes sur 59 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Brilliant! 12 septembre 2000
Par Debbie Lee Wesselmann - Publié sur
GHOSTWRITTEN is a startling original debut novel set in places as disparate as Okinawa, Mongolia, and London, each locale and its attendant narrator adding another story to Mitchell's tapestry. This is new millennium globalism, where people are connected by the most tenuous threads as they inhabit the same world run by coincidence and fate. You'll find that many reviewers will be unable to summarize the plot of this book; instead, they will describe the characters. That's because the plot IS the characters - who they are and what they represent.
The rhythms of the prose are often staccato and simple, but there is a beauty to it, a sure truth to the words. I entered this fiction and emerged blinking in what seemed like sudden light. Sometimes Mitchell's inventiveness was simply too much to take in, and it struck me as forced, originality for originality's sake, but, all in all, he succeeds admirably.
I suspect David Mitchell's GHOSTWRITTEN will be one of those books people either love or hate; you'll react to it on a visceral, not an intellectual, level. Certainly people who like only traditionally told tales will be disappointed, as will lovers of naturalism and realism. One thing is clear: this book will be discussed by serious readers. You should read it so you can throw yourself into the fray.
37 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Promising but uneven first novel 5 janvier 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur
Can't join all the Hooray Henries praising this as a "masterwork": it's a good first work of fiction, and Mr. Mitchell shows considerable promise, but "Ghostwritten" is, at best, a half-realized effort.
The book is a series of 9 loosely but cleverly connected vignettes tracing the joys and travails of a wide variety of contemporary characters: a millennial cultist, a young Japanese jazz lover, a stressed-out ex-pat Brit working in a shady Hong Kong securities firm, an old Chinese woman living in a tea shack, a St. Petersburg kept-woman, a London slacker, an Irish scientist, a New York DJ. The tales, which are essentially complete in and of themselves, are each told in the first-person, and are written in a variety of styles ranging from the pseudo-Amy Tan of the Chinese narrator to the Nick Hornsby-ish musings of the young Londoner scraping out a living by ghostwriting and playing in a band. Characters and incidents central in one tale reappear in fleeting glimpses, snatches and references in the other tales, suggesting something like "It's a Small World After All" and that we're all interconnected in ways that we can't really begin to fathom.
If this sounds a little New Age-y it's because it is-one section of the novel, "Mongolia," even follows a disembodied spirit as it migrates from host-body to host-body trying to unravel the riddle of its own existence. This is either your cup of tea or it isn't...for my part I found it pretty hokey. Mitchell is a keen observer and has a terrific knack for simile: when he's treating something down-to-earth like backpackers meeting on a train, or waking up with a hangover in a strange bed, or the sound of a jazz saxophone, or visiting a loved one with Alzheimer's, or the synergy between a medical and moral crisis (in the case of the Hong Kong broker) he's very compelling and provokes smiles or grimaces of recognition. When the author is indulging in flights of metaphysical fancy, however, he's merely tedious and borderline pretentious.
It seems to me that Mitchell is a talented miniaturist trying, unsuccessfully, to be a whole lot more. The sections that are the most realistic-Okinawa, Tokyo, Hong Kong and London-are far and away the most successful in the book. When Mitchell (a British citizen living in Japan) tries to write from a geography or cultural consciousness he knows less well he is unconvincing and clumsy. "Holy Mountain," for instance, with its improbably out-of-touch peasant woman narrator, recycles every cliché about 20th century China, and has a number of inconsistencies, such as the narrator mistaking a microphone for a "magic silver mushroom," but in almost the same breath making an off-hand reference to a jack-hammer. Or the "Clear Island" section, which is one half lyrical paean to rural Ireland, one half silly Frederick Foresythe spy-on-the-lam-from-a-sinister-global-conspiracy piffle.
It is the St. Petersburg section, however, that is almost comically inept, rife with error. While some of these mistakes are easy enough to overlook-such as when he has two ostensibly Russian women introduce themselves using "Miss" and "Mrs." (forms of address for which there are no equivalents in Russian) and then shake hands (something Russian women would never do among themselves)-others, like having a female character called "Petrovich," are unlikely to be missed by anyone who has ever been to Russia or read a Russian novel. Admittedly, this just comes down to poor editing...the real problems with the section are much more fundamental: an extraordinarily cheesy plot, which asks us to believe that priceless works of art are being successfully smuggled out of the Hermitage using a floor polisher; and the demeaning and deeply stereotyped portrayal of all the Russian characters, as one-dimensional and sinister as James Bond villains.
In the end, unfortunately, the pulpier parts of the novel subsume the more serious and restrained parts, and the book ends in a serio-comic vision of the coming technological apocalypse that could have been lifted straight out of Arthur C. Clarke. I don't mean that as a compliment. Hopefully next time around Mr. Mitchell will play more to his strengths as a particularist and leave the Pynchonian post-modern globe-hopping to...well, to the inimitable Pynchon himself...
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