"The Right Sort"


Photo of author David Mitchell by Paul Stuart.If there’s one single thing that’ll draw me back to Twitter, it’s a new short story by my favorite author.

The week of July 14, David Mitchell debuted a new short story, “The Right Sort,” bit by bit on the social networking site. The story follows a British teen boy, Nathan Bland, and his mother as they visit a Lady’s fancy home. It’s an awkward outing, made stranger by the fact that both mother and son are hopped up on Valium.

Mitchell is an expert at writing in various literary styles, sometimes varying styles dramatically within the same novel (most famously, in Cloud Atlas). This new story resembles the writing found in Mitchell’s novel Black Swan Green (my favorite novel, which I wrote about in a previous blog post)--but with a dark twist.

"The Right Sort” Excerpt

“The door sort of summons my palm. The smooth metal’s not warm, not cool. The door swings inwards. Its hinges shriek like brakes and it opens onto a garden, a buzzing, summery, magazine garden, just as the sun comes out and turns up all the colours. Well would you cop a load of *that*,’ says Mum, forgetting to sound posh. We’re speechless. Even me. It’s just so beautiful.

The garden’s an explosion of roses, foxgloves, sunflowers, poppies...More I can’t name. A rockery, a pond. Bees, butterflies, birdsong. The garden draws us in. Gravel crunches under our feet. I hardly noticed the black door shutting, like a butler closed it. Lady Briggs’s house is old grey stone. Square, windows, a posh front door with steps. Half smothered by that fiery red ivy. Valium brightens colours a bit. Reds are bloodier, blues go glassy, yellows sort of sing and greens pull you under like quicksand."

Read It All

The complete series of Tweets comprising the story are collected on Sceptre Books’s Twitter page.

New Novel

According to the BBC, Mitchell admitted he was not fond of Twitter, but agreed to publish the story as an experiment in publicizing his new book, The Bone Clocks, due out in September. It’s his first novel since 2010’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. In the meanwhile, you may reserve The Bone Clocks through SMCL. Ghostwritten, Number9dream, Black Swan Green, and Cloud Atlas are also available for checkout.

Despite his usual aversion to Twitter, this platform seems to work well for his writing. His descriptions are poetic and the characters' conversations are insightful. Lots of suspense. Not a dull sentence to be found. When the story is rolled out slowly like this, it's tempting to favorite every Tweet.

San Francisco Author Event

On September 24, at 7:30 pm, David Mitchell will make an appearance in San Francisco’s Kabuki Theater, sponsored by The Bookmith. It’s surely an event not to be missed!

Photo credit: Paul Stuart


Author Bio:

Karen Choy is the Youth Services Librarian in Half Moon Bay.

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