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The novelist’s neurosis

David Mitchell is already being treated as a major figure of British fiction. But it is too early to tell

By Julian Evans   April 2004

Book: Cloud Atlas Author: David Mitchell Price: (Sceptre, ?16.99)

Imagine, for a moment, that the writing of novels is a disease contracted by certain fragile and ambitious men and women from their twenties onwards, many with an obvious predisposition (emotional or physical deficit) in their childhood. Treatment of the affliction consists in managing the narrative effusions that appear at intervals, with the intention that, over time, the novelist can feel confident that his or her view of the world, as expressed in fiction, is accepted by enough readers to supply the necessary reinforcement. Essential to the treatment is a cocktail…

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