David Mitchell – Black Swan Green

  • Mitchell, David. Black Swan Green, Random House, April 2006, 304p.
  • One sentence summary: Jason Taylor is 13.
  • This is for: People who love really getting to know a character intimately
  • This is not for: People who prioritize the destination over the journey.

Black Swan Green is an amazing piece of writing. 13 is an age where you have enough of a kernel of maturity to try and figure out the world around you, yet there is still so much that you don’t know. Much of the plot of BSG is driven by this conflict, as Jason Taylor makes false assumptions about the people around him, or is too afraid of ridicule to ask another person what he should do. This makes it an incredibly delicate piece of writing too. Everything takes place from Jason’s perspective, and Mitchell does nothing to wink at his adult readers. Jason’s world is almost a magical world, full of unpredictable adults, new emotions, savage bullies, and distracted parents. He is a wonderful character.
I first read Cloud Atlas after reading about it, and Mitchell, in the New York Times Magazine. I was a little underwhelmed by Ghostwritten, but that was mostly because it covers thematic ground that is very close to Cloud Atlas. BSG is very different from those two, and is perhaps my favorite of his works to date.

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