David Mitchell must have the aim of writing something differently each time. I've heard that China Miéville's aim is like that too...
Either way it's very nice to see an author who tries to write in multiple genres rather than pigeon-holing himself as a fantasy, sci-fi or mystery writer.
I must admit that the three star rating is because the subject matter is not my preferred. I'm into the epic
(a phrase used in this book no less), the grand ideas that extend beyond a novel that envelop all humanity and this was an entertaining novel about a teenage boy's self discovery. While humorous it was hardly ever applicable to me, I've never been the kid who was picked on or who picked on others and if I was I knew how to ignore it and make others ignore me. The humour of the novel appealed to me to be sure but...
Alright I'll spit out my judgement. It wasn't as profound or as interesting as the rest of Mitchell's novels. It was another growing up tale of self-discovery by a thirteen year old of which I have read plenty. And some were very excellent autobiographies like My Family and Other Animals which I recommend anyone reading this review look up for a laugh and some wonderful prose. I don't want to dismiss Black Swan Green
as Mitchell claims it is one of his more personal novels (I've heard that he too has a speech defect so reading about that was nothing short of fascinating!). However, I'm not sure it's one of his best novels.
However, that said, what I admire about Mitchell is still present n this book. Firstly, his virtuosity and grasp of the rules of language and ability to use those rules to tell stories are visible. Secondly, his meta-linguistic references are again present with Frobisher making an entry. Thirdly, the references to other novels and cultural icons are again visible. I love the fact that Mitchell's stories display how they have grown through other stories. It is stories that define us as in order to understand a sentence like 'The frog jumped in a lake' you must understand the idea (or story, if you'll excuse my hyper-extending the idea) behind that sentence. You must know what 'the frog' is and what 'jumping' is and what kind of an object a 'lake' might be. In the same way I think that in order to understand the novel we must be aware of the similar novels which have inspired novelists. Hence I'm ending my review on a short list of the novels/novelists I noted being referenced.Those people/works referenced that I've read
Ursula K. Le Guin
The Lord of the Rings
Lord of the FliesThose people/works referenced I've yet to read
The Old Man and the Sea
Le Grand Meaulnes