Alas

David Mitchell, Ghostwritten (1999)

Dear Mr. Mitchell,

I’m sorry I am unable to finish your book. It’s been lingering on my nightstand since the beginning of the year (!), and now that fall is coming our way, I can’t bear the guilt of seeing it every night with a bookmark set at two third, seemingly unmoving. Therefore we must part ways.

I love your idea of linked short stories, the intrusion of supernatural into ordinary lives, I was looking forward to those tiny clues and coincidences that connect very diverse characters across the world. I love the stream-of-consciousness style… normally. Your book came with good reviews from a lot of people plus the warm recommendations from Mr. Smithereens. I have nothing against violent fiction, realist fiction, literary fiction, crazy Hong Kong traders, Japanese cult members, Chinese old women, Mongolian shaman, Russian prostitutes, whatever.

Just that I must acknowledge my limits. I know you’re trying to do something clever, and by the reviews I’ve read you’ve managed to impress a lot of people with it, but I can’t make any sense of it, and I don’t have any fun reading it. The whirling round of characters is just too depressing. There’s a limit out there that separate in my own little experience the challenging books between those I struggle with but derive a sense of satisfaction and read to the end, and those where I just have to let go, regretfully.

It’s me, I’m sure, it’s not your book. Perhaps I’m not ready for post-modern, experimental books. But other are. I’m giving it over to Bookmooch and it will travel the world, creating a tiny connection like those you love in your book.

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