The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Mike’s review

Despite my previous self-assuredness, I did not finish reading this in 2012. I have yet to start my next book. Off to a so-so start for 2013.

This sentence is racist: Reading the name Orito will make me want to eat Doritos, which I’ve recently decided to stop eating as I put on 5 pounds in 4 days, all in Doritos weight.

This is a smidge boorish of me, but I’m not so sure I could watch a childbirth (I want to put my penis in there again and a child complicates that. And the pain of a partner, pain I can do nothing about. But mostly, if I’m being honest, it’s the grossness and I am ashamed and at the end of this note I left myself a note to not put this on the Internet. I probably should listen to myself.)

Philosophical discussions regarding slavery are lame. “Can you believe this is how people justified owning people? LOLZ.”

Way too far into this to care so little (notable here because I never really ended up caring at all).

It’s hard enough for me to keep track of more than 4 characters with English names, let alone Dutch or Japanese.

I was hoping for a mind-bender that would open me to the wonders of the world like Cloud Atlas, but this is not that. Should have choose Stephenson while at the Library.

Also, there’s little more annoying than writing most everything in English then a word or sentence in the character’s native tongue. What makes that one easily translatable word so special?

So, symptoms of opium-withdrawl are a little headache and an instance of a shift from hot to cold?

The never-talking-to-each-other love these characters exhibit is frustrating. Aibijawa (I can’t read my writing and have no real recollection of who the fuck this is, so this spelling may be quite wrong) loves Ogawa and de Zoet. Is de Zoet thinking of me? It’s about as sill as The Kids In The Hall sketch.

Fumi-e: Shocked then ashamed because image of Jesus is (should be) meaningless to me, then I realized shocked is a reasonable outcome because I wouldn’t step on a Star of David (which isn’t really the same thing, but other religions aren’t nearly as into symbolism as Christianity, especially Catholicism). This wouldn’t be a big deal, but it is notable to feel something while reading this book.

This is racist. Japanese sell their own into copulation, then are so primitive as to eat their young. Even if it’s based on a true occurrence, to focus on this for Japan and science and medicine for Dutch is racist. The reading guide at the end says Mitchell set out to tell a story equally of both perspectives, which is baffling. To make a culture entirely backwards is one thing, to do so while pretending like you’re giving it equal credence to white people is another.

There have been enough good things said about Mitchell and Cloud Atlas was good enough that I’ll probably try again, but if this turd was the first Mitchell I’d read I’d never go back. Now, did I miss something? I’ve seen nice things said about this book. Words like epic bandied about and I just don’t see it at all.

V’s response

My goodness this sounds horrible. I have Cloud Atlas lined up to read in my Kindle but I will stay far away from this one.

I agree that if a book doesn’t make you feel something/care it is hard to keep reading it. Yet it appears you finished it. I don’t like books that make me feel ashamed. I would probably throw that book across the room. It’s Catholic guilt popping up again Mike, you have to ditch that shizz with a quickness, it’s just not worth it.

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