as i read the 2006 man booker shorlist (the winner being kiran desai for the inheritance of loss; nice title) and filed away new names to check out at leisure; as echoes of birdsong by sebastian faulks-which i recently finished-still resonate; and while cloud atlas by david mitchell is promising to be an amazing read, i recall my sister-in-law's question of many months ago: what is the point of reading a novel? (or writing one for that matter.)
she asked this in all seriousness, while enrolled in a course that required her to write a number of book reviews. she didn't seem to enjoy reading any of the books, which made it rather difficult to review them. it wasn't that she disliked the books, but more that she was indifferent to them.
reading fiction, for me, is about experiencing different worlds, different perspectives. it is about making new friends, exploring new places, understanding new professions. and it is about appreciating the fantastic use of language to create all of the above. cloud atlas is a great example: its chapters (so far, at least) consist of narratives of different characters at different historical times. each narrative is so real; not just in historical authenticity, but also in personal characterization. i am, yet again, in awe. it is a wonderful feeling.
and this is true for not just literature, but other art, music, film. how many worlds there are then, to explore!
(an aside- i found cloud atlas randomly at the hku library, while picking up a tom robbins novel :)