Alynda Wheat
February 13, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Cloud Atlas

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Liam Callanan
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

There are surely easier tasks than trying to lend substance to the ethereal, gravity to the weightless. But Callanan is nothing if not fearless. He takes the little-known historical fact of Japan’s most daring weapon in WWII — hot-air balloons weighted down with explosives designed to torch the American landscape and destroy morale — and weaves in a plot about love and madness in the Alaskan tundra. Assigned to keep safe and secret these floating angels of death is a young American soldier, Belk. There is ostensibly a plot involving Belk, his increasingly unstable superior officer, and the Yup’ik-Russian woman they both love, but Callanan seems far more interested in flashes of imagery and the fog of emotion than he is in the masonry of solid narrative. While his methods beautifully convey Belk’s sense of dislocation and fear, it leaves a reader craving something more tangible to grasp.

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