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David Mitchell Conversation Recap

“Literature! Art! The future of the Anglo-American novel is at stake!”

As faithful readers of the Catapult know, on this past September 22 I had the immense pleasure and mind-blowing honor of sharing a stage with Mr. David Mitchell for an “In Conversation”-style event at MCASD’s Sherwood Auditorium in San Diego. I really don’t think I can ever thank David enough for humoring this fanboy and subjecting himself to a litany of my questions in front of an audience. Whew… well, thanks, David.

And thank you, of course, to Warwick’s bookstore for selling the books and helping get the word out and putting the whole thing together. We pitched the idea for an event to David’s publisher together and there’s no way I could have ever pulled it off without them, of course. All I knew was that I wanted to get David to San Diego, I pleaded my case and Julie (their director of events) took care of the logistics. A rockstar.

So! We have some raw video and a separate audio track of the conversation and if we can stitch things together and make it watchable/listenable, I’ll post it here. David and I talked for the better part of an hour, covering his vast multiverse, the übernovel, the primal nature of storytelling and being read to at an author event, (“Here we are in semi-darkness, hearing a story. It’s the oldest form of narrative there is.“) whether (ala Crispin Hershey) he reads his own critical reviews, (“I used to.”) the untapped comedic well of Christmas letters “written” by family pets, and our shared fascination of what lies beyond the Sea of Rhûn. I concluded the chat with a lightning round of questions called Coincidence or Not Coincidence, as pertaining to the David Mitchell universe. This was my way of asking all the nerd questions (tying together characters from previous books) that I tried to steer around for the first part of the evening. A few choice excerpts:

Me: The Sykes family in The Bone Clocks and Mr. Sykes in Cloud Atlas. Coincidence? Not a coincidence?
David: Coincidence. Who’s Mr. Sykes? (audience laughter)
SM: He’s on the Prophetess – he’s a… just maybe a deckhand (actually a very briefly mentioned shipbuilder from the Adam Ewing section who is performing repairs on the Prophetess while she’s in port in the Chatham islands)
DM: I might nudge that into not a coincidence then. I mean, deckhand, Gravesend, east end of London, where Her Navy got Her sailors from, often press ganged… could be, could be.
Exhibit A: Cloud Atlas, page 4
SM: Veronica Costello from Cloud Atlas and Vincent Costello from The Bone Clocks
DM: Not a coincidence. Aunt Veronica owns the house that the untrustworthy Vinnie is sort of minding.
SM: Marinus and Meronym (from Cloud Atlas)
DM: Meronym… is a member of a kind of tribe… who are the last technologically advanced outpost on earth – she calls her people the “prescients” – and the think tank that the surviving Horologists – whom you will meet in The Bone Clocks – form on Iceland, which will be kind of an environmental lifeboat when the rest of the world is gone to pot with climate change, the end of oil, and Ebola, scarily enough – the name of that think tank is “Prescience.” Meronyn is a potential descendant of Marinus… except for… I made the point that the Horologists don’t have children, can’t have children…
SM: Can’t she be Marinus?

DM: Um… he-e-e-e-ey… um… (audience laughter) The showrunner of Doctor Who – which is the 4thmention (of Doctor Who) this evening – a man named Steven Moffat, when he’s asked a nerd question – when he’s being asked to square a nerd circle – his grumpy answer is “I’ll sort that out in Christmas special.” Which is to say, I’ll sort this out in the Christmas special.

Then I laid out this scenario: in Number9Dream Eiji Miyake watches a film called “The Voorman Problem” in a theater called the Ganymede Cinema. In The Bone Clocks Crispin Hershey wrote a short story called “The Voorman Problem” and his father was a filmmaker famous for a film called “Ganymede 5.” Coincidence?
DM: That’s a delicious coincidence. That’s great! I’ll use that then. (audience laughter) It makes sense that they would’ve named the theater after the film that the owner of the movie theater loved. Right. That’s easy to sort out in the Christmas special.

There’s lots more, of course, so as soon as Team Catapult figures out what we have & how to share it, you will be the first to know.

At the end of the evening, Assistant Catapult Operator, Scott Ehrig-Burgess and I presented David with the first ever Book Catapult Golden Slingshot® award for “mid-life achievement in literary excellence with all the honors, rights, and privileges appertaining thereto.” Whatever those are.

The Warwick’s staff (past and present) with the author and the Book Catapult “staff” mixed in.


One comment on “David Mitchell Conversation Recap

  1. Pingback: Slade House | The Book Catapult

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This entry was posted on September 29, 2014 by in Catapult Event, David Mitchell, The Bone Clocks.
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