I just read a wonderful interview in New York Magazine (which you can read here) about David Mitchell’s new book, The Bone Clocks.
Aside from sounding like a very good book in its own right, The Bone Clocks purportedly brings several characters from his previous books into the story.
This is known as metalepsis (a delicious word) and something I am a huge fan of.
I like connected stories. Remembering old characters, and seeing them in new situations, is fascinating and valuable. The idea that the barriers of separate novels are permeable is beautiful, and makes me think about what else in life we discount because of the many boxes and categories we create to keep things apart.
Using characters and beliefs this way encourages the reader to stay in the story long after the ending has been passed. The final page is just another boundary, after all, and the best books should continue to make you think. Should make you try to weave their perspective into your own reality and see how it changes as a result.
Reading the Dark Tower series (or any Stephen King, probably) is also a good example of this. Characters move between books with ease – and I’m pretty sure I’ve just read the nugget of the idea that turned into 11/22/63, one of his newest novels, all in a conversation somewhere in Calla Bryn Sturgis.
So here’s to metalepsis, and books which go beyond their traditional limits – I’d love to create something that far reaching and interconnected one day.