‘Cloud Atlas’ author David Mitchell unveils new short story on Twitter

He joins Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, Teju Cole, and other high-profile novelists in experimenting off the page.

Mar 2, 2020, 1:19 am*



Miles Klee

David Mitchell, the celebrated British novelist who gave us Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, has a new book coming out in September: The Bone Clocks. But as highly regarded as he is, even Mitchell is not immune to the literary industry’s demand for social media promotion. In April, he grudgingly opened a Twitter account.

Still, Mitchell is big-time enough that his publisher manages the feed on his behalf: “I’m not really a social media animal,” he told the BBC in explaining his resistance to the popular platform. “I like my privacy … I don’t want to make public the ante-rooms of my mind. I don’t want to add to this ocean of trivia and irrelevance, it’s already vast and deep enough.”  

As a way of avoiding that fate and riling fans up ahead of the The Bone Clocks’ release, Mitchell will forgo the usual half-baked status updates in favor of a serialized short story, “The Right Sort.” The 1978-set fiction, which opened today and will last a week, follows a teenage boy who has discovered the pleasures of Valium, relaying his consciousness in “a sequence of nice little throbs and pulses”—or 280 tweets:

Mitchell has said that one needn’t read The Bone Clocks to understand “The Right Sort,” or vice versa, but that the two coexist “in the same universe where possibly the clause of mortality that is written into the contract of life is negotiable.” Sounds like exactly the sort of metaphysical stakes we’ve come to expect from this wildly inventive talent. Read on!

H/T BBC | Photo by Christchurch City Libraries/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Jul 14, 2014, 3:05 pm