OK guys I finished Ghostwritten and I certainly did not expect that ending. I agree with you DATo, I do wish I had read his books in order especially after noting how themes introduced in Ghostwritten (e.g Bullying & Consumerism) become quite central in Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green.
Did you note the paraphrasing of Hobbes in "Okinawa" .... "We abdicate certain freedoms, and in return we get civilisation".
and "The comet will be here by Christmas" & General Brain "First, you're the head of a team to smash the temples to bits" seem to me obvious Biblical references. I loved the "I added writers to my list of people not to trust. They make things up" and "For a moment I had the odd sensation of being in a story that someone was writing ..."
The swans .... not too sure, the only though that came to me was perhaps the Yeats poem "Leda And The Swan" or there are many legends of fishermen marrying silkies (seal women) but I haven't heard any with swans. And there is of course the Legend of the Children of Lir turned into swans by their cruel step-mother.
Delighted to see another of my favourite Yeats poems The Lake Isle of Innisfree quoted not once but twice
I loved the ".... lecturer, exposing his edudition like a flasher in Smolnogo Park", Buddha "outstaring the sun" and "Herod calling Thatcher a bit insensitive"
but what about "The act of memory is an act of ghostwriting", now that's a thought to ponder.
Mitchell really is very egalitarian in his disparaging of races, we all get a lash, the Americans, the English, Mongolians, Chineese, Russians .... and even the Irish
Just remembered did you guys note the reference to "a birthmark shaped like a comet" in the London section?
Definitely a book that will have to be re-read ... loved it, loved it, loved it