David Mitchell offers an amusing little critique of his own writing
Illustration by Sachin Teng
The illustration above by Sachin Teng is borrowed from James Wood's plot-spoiler review in the New Yorker (September 8, 2014) of David Mitchell's most recent literary work, The Bone Clocks: A Novel (September 2, 2014).
In Bone Clocks, Mitchell creates a writer, Crispin Hershey, who has written a novel titled Echo Must Die and whose literary style is modeled after Mitchell's . . . or rather that Mitchell creates a literary critic named Richard Cheeseman who parodies Hershey's style, by which the critic's writing is therefore a parody of Mitchell's style:
"So why is Echo Must Die such a decomposing hog? One: Hershey is so bent on avoiding cliché that each sentence is as tortured as an American whistleblower. Two: The fantasy subplot clashes so violently with the book's State of the World pretensions, I cannot bear to look. Three: What surer sign is there that the creative aquifers are dry than a writer creating a writer-character?" (Mitchell, The Bone Clocks: A Novel, 294)I read these words on my iPad around 5:20 Thursday morning as I stood on the platform at Mangu Station on the Jungang Line waiting for the subway train to Wangsimni Station. Why do I cite this so specifically? Because I want a precise record of the moment I noted this self-referencing moment in Mitchell's most recent novel. Why do I want that? I don't know. I'm a mystery to myself.
Self-parody aside, Mitchell's literary style skillfully avoids cliché, easily carries along an intriguing fantasy subplot, and creatively offers a well-rounded writer-character . . .