Black Swan Green

Black Swan Green

A Novel

Book - 2006
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From highly acclaimed two-time Man Booker finalist David Mitchell comes a glorious, sinewy, meditative novel of boyhood on the cusp of adulthood and the old on the cusp of the new. In his previous novels, David Mitchell dazzled us with his narrative scope and his virtuosic command of multiple voices and stories. The New York Times Book Review said, "Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across [Cloud Atlas's] every page." Black Swan Green inverts the telescopic vision of Cloud Atlas to track a single year in what is, for 13-year-old Jason Taylor, the sleepiest village in muddiest Worcestershire in a dying Cold War England, 1982. But the 13 chapters create an exquisitely observed world that is anything but sleepy. Pointed, funny, profound, left field, elegiac, and painted with the stuff of life, Black Swan Green is David Mitchell's subtlest yet most accessible achievement to date. Excerpt from from Black Swan Green: Picked-on kids act invisible to reduce the chances of being noticed and picked on. Stammerers act invisible to reduce the chances of being made to say something we can't. Kids whose parents argue act invisible in case we trigger another skirmish. The Triple Invisible Boy, that's Jason Taylor. Even I don't see the real Jason Taylor much these days, except for when we're writing a poem, or occasionally in a mirror, or just before sleep. But he comes out in woods. Ankley branches, knuckly roots, paths that only might be, earthworks by badgers or Romans, a pond that'll ice over come January, a wooden cigar box nailed behind the ear of a secret sycamore where we once planned a treehouse, birdstuffedtwigsnapped silence, toothy bracken, and places you can't find if you're not alone. Time in woods's older than time in clocks, and truer.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2006.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9781400063796
Characteristics: 294 p. ; 25 cm.
Alternative Title: Blackswangreen


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Jun 14, 2019

David Mitchell is at the height of his craft, writing a sensitive narrative of being 13 - "a wonderful, miserable age. Not a boy, not a teenager. Impatience but timidity too. Emotional incontinence." The narrator evokes the feel and taste and color of an impressionable age, with first kisses and first cigarettes, and bullying and fear and poetry and carnivals and popular kids and ... huge parts of his life which only become clear much later. The cultural references and the language is spot-on, and the narrator's self-conscious speech difficulty very human.

Mar 08, 2018

Black Swan Green is a great book about growing up through the eyes of a middle school aged kid. I think that David Mitchell was very successful in creating realistic characters and drama in the story even if some of the plot points were a bit cliche especially towards the end of book. As such, this book is a great read for people who want to remind themselves of the weird social environments that young kids create for themselves. However, I think Black Swan Green is good for more than just reminiscing about middle school. For example, David Mitchell addresses the idea of having a disconnect between the true thoughts of an individual and the way that one presents oneself to other people. I think that this is something that many people would find interesting to read as many people would have likely thought about that idea themselves as well. Overall, I found Black Swan Green to be a very enjoyable story with great characters and character development with a rather cliche but acceptable ending.
- @CookieMonster of The Hamilton Public Library's Teen Review Board

mvkramer Sep 19, 2015

I love David Mitchell's writing style. I love his poetic, original use of language. I love the way he gets into a character's head and makes them practically real. Jason Taylor is a great, sympathetic character. His experiences were almost painfully accurate to me - also a bullied nerd at 13. A bit less ambitious and exotic than Mitchell's other titles, but a fantastic piece of writing.

Tyler__J Jun 09, 2015

While other novelists tend to forget the real awfulness of childhood, Mitchell recalls every humiliation a typical youth has to endure. This unsentimental story has the ring of truth and if the plot teeters on the edge of the unbelievable, then it somehow seems fitting giving the unfettered imagination of its hero. Innocent without being sentimental and packed with many pearls of wisdom.

Jun 07, 2015

A wonderful story by an amazing author. Well worth reading this intelligent coming of age novel.

Apr 12, 2015

My favourite coming of age novel...okay maybe Catcher in the Rye edges it out... It's funny, insightful and early David Mitchell, a writer worth following.

Nov 05, 2014

An excellent read. Sensitively told, well plotted and inhabited with characters and details throbbing with life. This is a bildungsroman of a year-in-the-life of English boy, Jason Taylor, a stammerer, not unlike the author himself. How Jason copes with and triumphs over the limitations and complications of his life is captured in this novel's many tender, hilarious and occasionally action packed scenes. Of special note is Mitchell's referencing Alain-Fournier's great coming-of-age novel, Le Grand Meaulnes in this novel--which I promptly read in English translation. David Mitchell is a marvel. His love of literature and making connections is just another reason to savor his writing, including Black Swan Green.

WVMLBookClubTitles Jun 17, 2013

In 13 connected stories Jason Taylor describes his perilous trek through schoolyard trials, his budding interest in girls and the simmering tension between his parents. Straddling the wonders of childhood and the anxieties of adulthood, he speaks to us in a voice that mingles insight and naivete—not too cute, not too slick. The result is a novel that’s alternately nostalgic, funny and heartbreaking.

tomcrisp May 12, 2013

BLACK SWAN GREEN is a town in Worcestershire England, the year is 1982, the voice is that of a 13-yr old poet/stammerer who quickly enlists the reader's attention. This is grown-up fiction I'd recommend also to mature young readers. The artful, nicely-paced writing always stays believable and is by turns poignant, funny, intelligent and dramatic. The often cruel world of middle school fits into a larger world here. The important role - both positive and painfully otherwise - of peripheral adult characters helps move this story to its effective, surprising and, again, believable end.

Feb 24, 2013

The same evening I talked to my husband about how I was enjoying Black Swan Green while I was reading it but I wasn’t feeling compelled to keep picking it up, I got into bed a half hour early to read a chapter or two, and put down the finished book at 4 AM. It very slowly gets better and better and unfolds so gorgeously. The dialogue took me a few chapters to appreciate, but it is brilliantly British, teenage, and 80s.

It's like a young adult novel for adults. The one small thing that takes away from the serious beauty of this year in the life of an unpopular teenager is how perfectly his life turns around at the end. Where’s the story about the kid who spends every recess in the bathroom so as not be seen on the playground alone growing up depressed for the next 20 years?

But if this is how David Mitchell writes, I am definitely going to try Cloud Atlas.

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DBRL_LaurenW Oct 24, 2017

“Listening's reading if you close your eyes. Music's a wood you walk through.”


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