Saturday, March 6, 2010

Book of Clouds by Chloe Aridjis

Published: 2009
Pages: 209
Genre: Fiction
Having escaped her overbearing family a continent away, Tatiana settles in Berlin and begins to cultivate a solitude while distancing herself from the city's past. Yet the phantoms of Berlin - seeping in through the floorboards of her apartment, lingering in the abandoned subterranea - become more alive to her than the people she passes on her daily walks. Unfolding with the strange, charged logic of a dream, Book of Clouds is a profound portrait of a city forever in a flux, and of the myths we cling to in order to give shape to our lives.
For my reviews, I usually compose my own "short summary" to describe the plot of the book. For Book of Clouds, though, this task proved to be way too difficult - I had to opt for the text written on the inside cover. I think this was because the book didn't really have a conventional storyline; there wasn't a conflict, there wasn't an antagonist, there wasn't a climax. It was simply the story of a young woman's life in Berlin.

For some people this would be a huge turn off. "No adventure? No excitement? What kind of book is that?" My response would be that this is a gorgeous novel. The writing is poetic, lush and lyrical - it sucks you in completely. The actual book concept would probably have been boring if it wasn't for the talent that Chloe Aridjis displayed in her writing style (My guess is that this is probably due to her PhD in poetry!). Through this story, the culture of Berlin comes alive - the city itself is almost a character in the book.

As I said before, many people would most likely find the plot to be boring and flat. Essentially, all we do is follow Tatiana's time in Berlin - from her employment with a historian, to her awkward romance with a meteorologist, to her haunting experience in deserted underground bowling alley, and finally to her decision to move back to her homecountry. As the readers we are transported into a world that feels like a dream, but is somehow very realistic. It's a strange feeling that you must discover on your own!

Final say: Are you someone who craves action and adventure in a book? If so, steer clear from this one. But if you can appreciate the unique writing and let yourself get lost in Berlin alongside Tatiana, you'd enjoy this one for sure. I would recommend Book of Clouds to almost everyone.

11 comments:

Bookalicious Ramblings said...

The summary you posted is quite vague indeed, but I don't mind books without the usual storyline etc. as long as they're well written and I can enjoy the words! This sounds like an interesting read so thanks for the review!

InABox said...

Hi! I found your blog through the Saturday Network.

Great review! You did a wonderful job explaining why you liked the book when others might not. Book of Clouds sounds gorgeous. :-)

Tynga said...

Great review!
Not my kind of book but thanks for sharing, I had never heard of that book before =)

I am here for the Saturday Network!

Emidy said...

Bookalicious Ramblings - I'm the same way! A well-written book is great.

InABox - Thanks for visiting! And thanks for your nice comment!

Tynga - Thank you for coming by! Yes, Book of Clouds isn't for everyone.

Jan von Harz said...

While I do love fast-paced books, I am also a lover of lyrical prose. If a book is well-written as your review indicates, it should not be over looked. Thanks for shring your thoughts.

Dana said...

Great review! Although generally I enjoy plot-driven books, the writing sounds like it makes this one too good to pass up - I'm definitely going to check it out!

Anonymous said...
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Nymeth said...

Well, I'm sold. I definitely don't care that there isn't a conventional plot - it does sound like a gorgeous book!

Sara said...

Wow amazing review! I sure do appreciate unique beautiful writing, I'll definitely be checking this one out :)

Emidy said...

Thanks for your comments! Yes, I'd definitely recommend this to you all. If you enjoy nice writing (which most people do!) give this one a shot.

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

FAB review! I love your recommendation.