Ghostwritten by David Mitchell (1999) since he knew how much I loved Cloud Atlas (reviewed here) when our book club read it a few years ago. [Note to DAFFODILS: Holy Shit, we read Cloud Atlas three years ago!] John never steers me wrong, and my love of David Mitchell has been proven before, so this one was right on target.
This is Mitchell's first novel and its structure would only seem unambitious if you happened to read Cloud Atlas first. Ghostwritten consists of nine chapters (and one brief coda) that each take place in a different location. The chapters stand alone except for (at first) a small connection between one and the next. As the book progresses, the connections become stronger, but the individual stories still stand on their own and their wildly different narrators and styles keep the reader reeling between the feeling of jumping between some masterfully written short stories and experiencing a whole new kind of novel.
The only chapter I didn't really fall in love with was the final chapter, "Night Train," which takes place in the booth of a grating late-night New York DJ named Bat Segundo. The connections in this bit pushed a little too hard for me, and the intentionally irritating DJ just, well, irritated me. This chapter does, however, get bonus points for featuring a brief appearance by Luisa Rey, who went on to take a key role in Cloud Atlas. I do like me some connections...
I feel like I've only read two David Mitchell novels because I like him so much that I don't want to rush through all of them. Reading Ghostwritten, though, has reminded me that I probably don't need to wait three years before reading another one. Highly recommended!