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Issue 78 - Spirited words

Whisky Magazine Issue 78
February 2009

 

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Spirited words

Jefferson Chase circumnavigates the globe with this latest tome.

Around the world in nine stories – that's about the only to describe David Mitchell's stunningly good 1999 novel Ghostwritten.

The individual narratives, starting on a Japanese island and ending on the East Coast of the US, are all subtly interconnected and deal with everything from murderous cults, moneylaundering schemes and artificial intelligence to disembodied spirits and chains of causality and chance.

To take the London section of this impossibleto- summarise novel as an example: a struggling musician and serial philanderer, Marco, gets chucked out of the apartment of a woman with whom he's had a one-night stand.

That puts him on the street at the right moment to save the life of a scientist, who will later rescue the planet from annihilation, from an oncoming taxi – a feat the unwitting Marco takes in his stride.

Weird. If that chair hadn't arrived when it did, and Katy hadn't flipped out and asked me to leave, then I wouldn't have been at that precise spot to stop that woman being flattened. I've never saved anyone's life before. It felt as ordinary as collecting photographs from Boots the Chemist.

In Mitchell's fiction, everything is connected, and the everyday and extraordinary are difficult to tell apart.

To make ends meet, Marco works as a ghostwriter, and he's going to see his boss.

Glance at Tim's desk and you'll see everything you need to know…Terminally overpopulated by piles of files and manuscripts, a glass of Glenfiddich you could mistake for ...

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