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review 2017-11-13 17:44
Wow. And not in a positive way.
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

This felt way longer than the page count warrants.

 

The voice of the first person narrator is dry and fraught with many boring details about being a butler and the job of a butler - I profession I never really felt much interest in...

The picture his narration paints is that of an unintelligent, emotionally stunted, stubborn and overly ambitious person. And the ambition is to be the perfect butler.

 

The protagonist is one of the most unlikable persons I ever encountered in books.

He is not evil or bad. Just not very smart, not very nice, no higher morals, just his stubborn loyalty towards his lord.

 

An example: his employer is politically active in the 1930ies in the so-called appeasement politics to an extent where he socializes with British fascists. One consequence is that he orders Stevens (the protag) to fire all Jewish employees in the household. Stevens does it. Without any kind of resistance or even a lot of consideration. 

 

This was much much worse than Downton Abbey, where the maids and servants at least are portrayed as human beings.

 

I have no clue how realistic this is, but it was boring and aggravating to read. Not sure if that was the intention of the book.

 

I can see no reason whatsoever why Miss Kenton would ever be in any way romantically interested in Stevens. Unless it was his "position" in the household. He was cold and insensitive, he ridiculed her and was emotionally unavailable.

Until he suddenly decided to travel to her and expect - what exactly?

 

This really left me confused - it is supposedly a good book, the author just won the Nobel prize. 

 

But this was really not a great book. It didn't move me at all.

A wasted life - but not because of being a servant, but a deeply annoying and unlikeable person.

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text 2017-10-05 16:34
Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize in Literature!
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

Today I awoke to the news that Kazuo Ishiguro has won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature.

 

I cannot convey how huge this news is to me. Never before have I read a book by a Nobel laureate before they won the prize, which was the one thing I thought I would never check off of my reading bucket list. Thanks, Nobel committee!

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url 2017-10-05 12:29
Kazuo Ishiguro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature 2017
Never Let Me Go - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
When We Were Orphans - Kazuo Ishiguro
An Artist of the Floating World - Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills - Kazuo Ishiguro
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall - KAZUO ISHIGURO
The Buried Giant - Kazuo Ishiguro
The Unconsoled - Kazuo Ishiguro

   

Yey!  I wasn't totally enamored with The Buried Giant and Nocturnes (and I've yet to read The Unconsoled and An Artist of the Floating World), but I'm a fan of his on the basis of Never Let Me Go, The Remains of the Day, and When We Were Orphans alone.

 

Congratulations, Mr. Ishiguro!

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text 2017-07-20 16:00
Book Booty, July 2017

 

A dear friend and colleague left the company recently. To us, it meant that we’d be seeing less of her. We decided to surprise her with a trip to The Tent and bought her a bevy of books. She loved it! We all got just a bit teary eyed but that’s life, isn’t it! You meet awesome people, get to know them better, and then become sad when you part ways with them.

Anyway, since I took myself there, I had to sample some of The Tent’s goodies. But you already knew that. So, this is what I got:

The Buried Giant is a book that I have wanted to get for a while now. The delicious controversy surrounding it and the rumor that it is fantasy without being fantasy have only convinced me to get it.

I loved both The Secret Life of Bees book and the movie. Wanting to see if the author’s other books are as magical, I have purchased this one as well. Now, I have two of her books in my collection:

Since people keep pairing the two, I have wanted to read this one ever since I read The Road. Now I can! The book can be used in lieu of a door stopper but if I can survive WoT, I am sure I will live to tell the tale after having read this one!

Read and loved this one, so I wanted it for my collection. I like the cover on this edition even though I have yet to watch the movie!

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I have heard mostly negative things about Memoirs of Geisha and how the author of that book has over-romanticized and out-slutted the role that geishas played in the Japanese society. From trusted sources come recommendations that present a more accurate picture. This author is one from that list and I couldn’t stop myself from getting this book.

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To be honest, I don’t know why I bought this…yet. I might read it or I might give it to someone who will get more use out of it than I would. Haven’t decided!

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This was a wonderful find. This book-cum-RPG thing is why I love going to The Tent. I have found all sorts of amazing things there. If you remember my illustrated Hobbit and LOTR editions, that is where I got them from.

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The empty frame was filled with cards displaying characters from the book. Each card had the picture of a character at the front and some questions (that might help in brainstorming) at the back. Here are the cards:

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A closer look:

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Am I crazy or are they really pretty? Like the book on Rock history, I haven’t decided what I am going to do with these yet. Any ideas?

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review 2017-07-14 15:05
A Review of Kazuo Ishiguro's Nocturnes
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall - Kazuo Ishiguro

I think if you look at my ratings on Goodreads you'll see that I'm much more sympathetic to short story collections. A good short story collection often shows an author's commitment to craft. You can see how much care the author takes with every word, you can get a sense of his or her range when dealing with subject matter and characters. You can get a sense of how their style carries from one kind of story to another.

 

There is another reason -- there is very little money in short stories, even for established writers. Thus, writers write short stories "for the love of the game".

 

For the most part, the stories in this collection share a kind of tonal consistency. Each story tells a tale of disappointment, subtle loss, memory, and the way we look foolish in pursuit of a dream. All the stories share musical elements and songs. Various songs and melodies tie these stories together. But this short story collection could also have been about the travails of writers and writing.

 

The story "Come Rain or Come Shine" stuck out for me as a bit awkward. It wasn't poorly written. It featured compelling characters and fantastic dialogue. However, because the short story takes place in a single space and is mostly dialogue, I felt that the story would have been better as a one-act play. (In some ways, it reminded me of the low-budget, but clever movie "Tape" with Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman). The story also features an absurd scene that doesn't quite work prose fiction but might have seemed less absurd and entertaining as a piece of theater physical comedy. You'll know the scene as soon as you read it.

 

There are some compelling reasons to stay away from these stories. One -- the emotional journies in these stories are subtle. There is rising action and things do happen, but by the end of the story, you often get the impression that the things that were left unsaid and that didn't happen were just as important. As a writer, I love these stories. I also appreciate how hard they are to pull off. Also -- the endings are not traditional endings. They may even feel like non-endings to some readers.

 

If you are a writer, there is also a compelling reason to read this book. A close reading of these stories will help you master your craft. In particular, these stories will help you master the craft of dialogue, character, and how to use compelling details.

 

Happy readings!

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