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I like my fiction real, my make-believe believable, if you know what I mean.
And yet – you knew that was coming – I couldn’t put down David Mitchell’s new novel, Slade House. I downed in quick feral slurp, like one of his soul-sucking spooks.
I can’t say why: The creepy English house, the weird twins, the first person tales of magic and doom are common elements in this gimme a break genre. All that talk of apertures, lacunae, orisons, suborisons and astral projection is, for me, the literary equivalent of bad breath on a first date. Next!
Except that Mitchell has such a magic way with words that I’d probably be entranced by his version of the phone book.
This is not a great book. Unlike his masterpiece, Cloud Atlas, it is not a profound meditation on history, literature and hope. It is a fun diversion that provides real spiky pleasure.
- Read an excerpt from the novel.
- Watch David read from the novel.
- Read Scarlett Thomas’s take in the NYTBR.
- Read David’s Paris Review interview.
- Visit David’s official website.
David Mitchell’s Top Ten List
1. The Duel by Anton Chekhov (1891) - a novella, I know, but I would save it from a burning house before everything else I've ever read.
2. 1984 by George Orwell (1948).
3. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (1899).
4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (1811).
5. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1966).
6. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930).
7. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (1749).
8. Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1964).
9. W, or The Memory of Childhood by Georges Perec (1975).
10. The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (1943–48).
Wild Card: Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (1926).