Dénouement

I’ve written here before (perhaps a tad obsessively) about my love for author David Mitchell. It’s been a while since I read anything by him – in fact, it’s been very slightly over a year. I know this because I polished off most of his last book, Black Swan Green, in one sitting while I was acting as a polling clerk at last year’s May local elections.

So when I saw that David Mitchell’s had written a new short story, Dénouement, for last weekend’s Guardian Review I felt a moment of excitement. Then I stopped myself. Perhaps I’m slipping into hero-worship. Perhaps this would be just a so-so short story, but perhaps my cognitive dissonance would have me persuading myself that I like it. It was thus with some hesitation that I began reading, fearing the worst.

I needn’t have worried. The story used a plot-twist that’s probably as old as fiction itself, but managed to make it feel fresh. Above all, it created an indescribable feeling inside of heartstrings pulled, vertebrae tingled, emotions set to vibrate at simultaneously happy, sad, longing and incredulous wavelengths. It was unmistakably David Mitchell’s writing.

I’m not quite sure how he works his tricks, and I’m loathe to over-analyse his writing (or even to re-read his books) in case the wonder is shattered, but whatever it is he does, he does it so well. If only I’d read the paper on Saturday, when it came out, I’d have jumped straight in the car and pootled off to Hay to hear him talk and perhaps even congratulate him in person.