Chloe Aridjis: Book of Clouds (3 stars)

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Book of Clouds

The Scottish climate comes in for a fair bit of stick but if Book of Clouds is to be believed, there’s more to dreichness than we think. Chloe Aridjis’ Berlin is awash with the wet stuff, from torrential downpours to misty masses. Tatiana is a young Mexican woman working in the German capital (like Aridjis) transcribing treatises by a German intellectual on the psycho-geography of contemporary Berlin.

Her role develops beyond that of mere cipher for Aridjis’ theories when mythological aspects (ghostly footsteps, a sighting of the aged Hitler, a timely fog white-out) creep into the tale and clouds become part of an extended metaphor about Berlin’s historical legacy. Weaving a tale in the tradition of magical realism, Aridjis steers away from clunky didacticism and all-out supernatural fun, which leaves her without a solid ground for conclusions. While the novel is engaging and charming the result is ultimately as insubstantial as Scotch Mist.

(Chatto & Windus)

Comments

1. roisterdoister13 Jul 2009, 1:33pm Report

The New York Times Sunday Book Review had this to say about BOOK OF CLOUDS: "First novels by young writers who see the world with a fresh, original vision and write about it with clarity and restraint are rare enough to begin with. When you add in the fact that Chloe Aridjis’ “Book of Clouds” is also a stunningly accurate portrait of Berlin, as well as a thoughtful portrayal of a young Mexican Jew drifting through her life abroad, this novel becomes required reading of the most pleasurable sort." The Irish Times chief literary correspondent wrote "AND NOW for something completely different: Chloe Aridjis brings a bit of realism, a bit of wonder, a hint of darkness and true originality to this sharp, lyric and beguilingly strange tale of a life in flux.
Perhaps it is autobiographical? Maybe it’s not? It doesn’t matter; Book of Clouds soars and shimmers through its assured writing, whimsical observations and its sheer ease. It is a story about thinking concerned with questioning life and drifting through it; it’s about knowing that sometimes even trying to take control is a waste of time."

BOOK OF CLOUDS is neither chick-lit (nor magical realism!), but a highly original book that intelligent readers will understand and appreciate.

2. roisterdoister13 Jul 2009, 1:36pm5 stars Chloe Aridjis: Book of Clouds Report

The New York Times Sunday Book Review had this to say about BOOK OF CLOUDS: "First novels by young writers who see the world with a fresh, original vision and write about it with clarity and restraint are rare enough to begin with. When you add in the fact that Chloe Aridjis’ “Book of Clouds” is also a stunningly accurate portrait of Berlin, as well as a thoughtful portrayal of a young Mexican Jew drifting through her life abroad, this novel becomes required reading of the most pleasurable sort." The Irish Times chief literary correspondent wrote "AND NOW for something completely different: Chloe Aridjis brings a bit of realism, a bit of wonder, a hint of darkness and true originality to this sharp, lyric and beguilingly strange tale of a life in flux.
Perhaps it is autobiographical? Maybe it’s not? It doesn’t matter; Book of Clouds soars and shimmers through its assured writing, whimsical observations and its sheer ease. It is a story about thinking concerned with questioning life and drifting through it; it’s about knowing that sometimes even trying to take control is a waste of time."

BOOK OF CLOUDS is neither chick-lit (nor magical realism!), but a highly original book that intelligent readers will understand and appreciate.

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