The stories differ greatly: in one down on his luck would-be composer Robert Frobisher describes his skin life as assistant to an aging composer in Belgium, while in another reporter Luisa Rey is trying to uncover a nuclear power-plant cover-up (a thriller-story in which the murder victims fall fast and furiously). He also manages to effectively divide the stories -- the first one in mid-sentence -- as each except the middle one is presented in two halves, eventually picking up where he left off (done expertly enough that it doesn't come across as merely an annoying conceit). The characters and episodes seem to have little to do with one another, and yet Mitchell finds ingenious (and generally skin very small) bridging links from one to the next. The final chapter is, like the first, again set in the nineteenth century.
But the book doesn't merely ascend in this manner: once it's reached this distant future the sections unwind again, and the book moves back, telling the other half of the stories (in reverse order) that brought the reader there. Each of the first six focusses on a single character, and in most that skin character narrates his or her story directly (in a journal, in letters, in an interview). The book is divided into eleven sections. In this book, too, he still prefers to play with form rather than worry about producing a skin full-fledged novel, but the parts (and the connexions) are impressive enough to make it a very worthwhile read.