Monday, April 30, 2012

THE CLOUD ATLAS by Liam Callanan

Belk is an aging priest whose shaman friend Ronnie is dying.  He tries to keep Ronnie alive by telling him about the defining era of his life.  Belk was a teenaged bomb defuser in Alaska during WWII, in love with the same half-Eskimo prostitute, Lily, as his outrageously insane commanding officer Gurley.  The bombs in question were unmanned and being floated to North America from Japan by balloons.  The incendiaries could kill or maim anyone who came near them, but they hadn't been hugely destructive.  Then talk of germ warfare emerged, with the prospect of balloons carrying canisters of plague-infected fleas or rats.  Everything builds to a final voyage by Belk, Gurley, and Lily, ostensibly to locate Lily's former lover and Japanese spy, Saburo.  I was interested to know what was going to happen, but I didn't really care what happened. We know that Belk is going to survive the voyage, but Lily and Gurley are another matter.  Lily is conflicted about her feelings for Gurley, and I was conflicted about my feelings for Gurley.  He's out of control one minute, and then he's doing something admirable and courageous the next, but he's basically trying to redeem himself in the eyes of the military and of Lily.  His two audiences are somewhat at odds, rendering him somewhat conflicted as well.

No comments: