Black Swan Green tracks a single year in what is, for 13-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in dying Cold War England, 1982. But the 13 chapters, each a short story in its own right, create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. A world of Kissinger-esque realpolitik enacted in boys' games on a frozen lake; of "nightcreeping" through the summer backyards of strangers; of the tabloid-fueled thrills of the Falklands War and its human toll; of the cruel, luscious Dawn Madden and her power-hungry boyfriend, Ross Wilcox; of a certain Madame Eva van Outryve de Crommelynck, an elderly bohemian emigre who is both more and less than she appears; of Jason's search to replace his dead grandfather's irreplaceable smashed watch before the crime is discovered; of first cigarettes, first kisses, first Duran Duran LPs, and first deaths; of Margaret Thatcher's recession; of Gypsies camping in the woods and the hysteria they inspire; and, even closer to home, of a slow-motion divorce in four seasons.
Pointed, funny, profound, left-field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell's subtlest and most effective achievement to date.
©2006 David Mitchell; (P)2006 Random House, Inc. Random House Audio, a division of Random House, Inc.
"Great Britain's Catcher in the Rye, and another triumph for one of the present age's most interesting and accomplished novelists." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Gorgeous....Captures the sheer pleasure of being a boy and brings to mind adventures shared by Huck and Tom." (Publishers Weekly)
"He reproduces Jason's inner life with such astonishing verisimilitude that readers will find themselves haunted by him long after turning the last page." (Booklist)
i don't tend to do that
Just a great combination of narrator,story and lyrical writing.A joy.
its a tribute to David Mitchell's writing that I managed to listen to this book to the end. The story takes place in England and the characters are all English. so why choose a narrator that sounds like a Canadian who went on holiday to Manchester and took elecution lessons from the Queen - sorry Kirby I'm sure you're a nice bloke but the reading was dismal!!
I've read most of Mitchell's other books and was a little hesitant about what seemed like a rather straightforward, linear narrative about one character, especially one who is 13. But of course, Mitchell made it an incredible journey with astonishing authenticity and profound insights into the human condition. Very well performed as well.
Narration was spectacular. Right up there with Simon Vance.
David Mitchell combines beautiful subtle appreciation for the vagaries of human life--and in this book, the vagaries of smart adolescent life--with more than a touch of political correctness. For example, given that it's the 80s, it fits that Jason's mother would be flexing her newly found feminist powers. But to throw in an object lesson about how terrible it is to be prejudiced against gypsies, or the little homily about poetry not having to be beautiful--maybe we could have skipped that. And maybe instead the book could have given glimpses of what his father was going through, since the structural tension in the book was created by his loyalty to an ex-mistress and his attempts to save her. But all in all an immersive read and there's an Easter Egg in there for fans of Cloud Atlas.
What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger.
Great way to view how life would be for a young person that anyone can relate to.
I had just read this book six months earlier, but when I heard the audio sample wanted to buy it and listen to it anyway. They've chosen the ideal reader for this book: his accent is perfect, and his interpretation of the text and the characters is very sensitive. The book is a brilliant semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story by an author whose range is very impressive (from nightmarish futurism to historical fiction and plenty in between). This one is a realistic first-person narrative about a kid with a stammer and the usual tween anxieties. There's a full and convincing cast of secondary characters. The atmosphere is one of nostalgia for early 80s pop culture and sadness about the effects of an unhappy marriage; yet it is lightened by the humor and the fabulations of its bright 13 year old narrator. I'm sure that I'll listen to this again.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
I was blown away by Cloud Atlas so I had to give this a try. Initially, I was disappointed that there were no clever postmodern devices. This is a straightup narrative of the life of a 13-year-old boy. And I was initially skeptical since I've always thought this genre was done to death by American authors. It pains me to say it, but Mitchell does this better than any American author I've come across. Plus, it's just plain better than any YA novel I've come across period. It's totally accessible to the YA audience but it's not marketed that way. And while he may eschew postmodern gimmicks here, there's a sophisticated structure underlying it. What seems like a simple slice of life book is actually composed of a number of interlocking storylines that ultimately all contribute to our young protagonist's understanding of his world. There just seems to be no limit to the talents of David Mitchell.
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