Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall
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Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  7,243 ratings  ·  845 reviews
In this sublime story cycle, Kazuo Ishiguro explores love, music and the passage of time. This quintet ranges from Italian piazzas to the Malvern Hills, a London flat to the “hush-hush floor” of an exclusive Hollywood hotel. Along the way we meet young dreamers, café musicians and faded stars, all at some moment of reckoning.

Gentle, intimate and witty, Nocturnes is unders...more
Hardcover, 221 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Knopf Canada (first published 2009)
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Community Reviews

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K.D. Absolutely
A nocturne is a “composition of a dreamy character, expressive of sentiment appropriate to evening or night”. Traditionally such nocturnal sentiments include regret, chagrin, melancholy, perhaps a dash of ennui – the pastel twilight tones at the lighter end of the spectrum that darken to gloom, rage and black despair.
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall is the first collection of short stories by the Japanese-English novelist, Kazuo Ishiguro. As the subtitle indicates, it is composed...more
Esther
I have a problem with Kazuo Ishiguro. And my problem with Nocturnes is the same one I had with his last novel, Never Let Me Go: I can't figure out why I didn't like it more.
Despite his deceivingly simple prose I am very aware of his tremendous skill. I find many of his themes fascinating. I am sufficiently interested in his characters to keep on reading. I admire his resistance against easy resolutions or explicative characterizations. I marvel at his ability to create moments that are truly fu...more
Fionnuala
I’ve always associated the word Nocturne with sadness, sublime sadness, deeply felt sadness, but sadness, none the less.
I think that Kazuo Ishiguro may share this feeling, even though, given that the term Nocturne when it started out simply meant a piece of music in several movements played by an ensemble at an evening party and that several of these stories revolve around ensembles playing music in the evenings, he may intend a simpler meaning. But I don’t think so. A character in one of the st...more
Lia
This was the first I read by Kazuo Ishiguro and I remember thinking "how did this guy win a Booker?" but then I read The Remains of the Day immediately thereafter, which I loved. But I found this collection of short stories very weak -- there's a couple of good scenes and clever ideas but by and large it's readable but really quite ordinary.

My main gripe would be that all the stories are too similar. As well as the motifs of music and nightfall flagged by the title, there's several common theme...more
Trevor
Let’s start with the obvious, I love this guy’s writing. I mean, he could write a book about the problems associated with the Estonian public transport system as a legacy of Soviet era planning and I think it is just possible I would still be utterly enthralled. I’m saying this because it is pretty important you understand that this isn’t really going to be an ‘objective’ review – whatever that might mean.

This one was nothing like any of the other books of his I have read. That might seem fairly...more
Cecily
I'm not a big fan of short stories, but read these because after the emotion and length of Perdido Street Station, I wanted a total change, and I'd been meaning to try another Ishiguro (I enjoyed Remains of the Day in my twenties, but more recently, gave Never Let me Go only 2*)

They were certainly a contrast, and they were perfectly competent, and had a connecting theme (music), but... That is all. I won't be rushing to read any more Ishiguro.

2.5* rounded down to 2*, because Ishiguro is supposed...more
Tony
It is unseasonably warm for a February Saturday in Pittsburgh. I am on the fifth and final story in Ishiguro's Nocturnes, trying to understand what it all means. Some music would be appropriate to go with this book, subtitled Five Stories of Music and Nightfall.

"This is what we will hear tonight," I say, as the first barely audible notes of Sebelius' Violin Concerto fill the room like a Scandinavian wind.

"I got some blood oranges for a salad. Would you like one?"

"No, thank you," picking up the b...more
Bonnie
Wow, I’ve never read so many stories in which nothing happened. And that all involved musicians/people who loved music who were spectacularly unsuccessful and apparently often quite unlikeable (at least, they didn’t have many friends). Here is the plot of the stories:

Crooner: Some guy meets a famous singer from back in the day, helps him serenade his wife and finds out they’re going to divorce so the singer can make a come-back.

Come Rain or Shine: Guy in a dead-end job who apparently is whiny a...more
T.D. Whittle
I have read quite a few Ishiguro novels, and consider him one of my favourite living writers. I am used to finding him witty, clever, and amusing in a way that causes me to smile and sometimes emit a small laugh whilst reading -- of course, this is less true with Never Let Me Go (it's just so terribly un-funny) than with, say, The Remains of the Day. Also, I am used to expecting moments of painful poignancy, tender regret, and compassionately evocative, world-weary denouement.

What I have not enc...more
Jana
Ishiguro is liquid. Can I say it like that? There is not a single thing in these stories where his writing isn't compatible with how a great beginning or the end of a story should look like. Or how a story should interestingly develop and how characters should be engaging and how... These nocturnes are almost perfect, and yet, they are somehow not.

As if they need that jump from the springboard to make a perfect somersault and maybe end it with some surprisingly unexpected flip or something. I a...more
Isabelle
A very fine collection of five short stories, all revolving around music and, as in all of Kazuo Ishiguro's books, loneliness. As always, he is a master of restraint, which does not diminish the pathos of the stories, on the contrary!
In each of those stories, something gets unraveled for each of the characters who collide with each other during that particular moment in their lives.... and of course all this happens to music, for music, because of music.
This is all tremendously lyrical albeit in...more
Cynthia
I love Ishiguro so be prepared for some gushing. This book was a departure for Ish. The day I got the book I sat down and told myself I'd read the first story. It was short and entertaining so I began the second story. I read a few pages and found myself chuckling and thinking I must be misunderstanding. Ishiguro is usually so lush and evocative. He makes me think and feel new things or at least feel them and think them with a new depth and understanding. After a few more pages I was falling off...more
Muhammad Shakhawat Hossain
Nocturnes are short musical compositions that are meant to praise the beauty of the night. Most of the famous nocturnes were written in the romance era of classical music. Frédéric Chopin and Claude Debussy are my personal favorite nocturne composers. Now, I do not dare much to claim myself to be a classical music geek but yes, I am one of those fortunate people on earth who are tremendously touched by the beauty of it. My addiction towards classical music often forced me to rummage through the...more
FreshGrads .Sg
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall is Kazuo Ishiguro's first collection of short stories after six successful novels. His latest book is made up of a quintet of short stories—Crooner, Come Rain or Come Shine, Malvern Hills, Nocturne and Cellists—where he explores love, music and the passing of time as dreams and relationships might start getting dusty.

Ishiguro, also a guitarist and a former chorister, was winner of the Booker Prize for novel-turned-film, The Remains of the Day. The f...more
Stephen
This is a difficult review to write, because I have a great deal of respect for Kazuo Ishiguro as a novelist, but the short story is a different form that calls for a different set of skills. The subtlety of his prose, the limpid tone, all while describing moments of heartbreak, is utterly lost in this collection of short stories. It's like a plumber picking up an electricians toolbox.

The plots of the stories do not matter, a thematic approach will serve Nocturnes. The overriding theme seems to...more
Teresa
At times while reading this, though I always enjoyed the prose, I wasn't sure where Ish was going and/or what he was doing, but I knew I could trust him. And, sure enough, I was rewarded. Though these are five separate stories (with a recurring character and a recurring place, each happening twice), the stories definitely belong together.

Two of the stories are very funny to the point of ridiculousness (not a complaint, but something I don't think I've seen from him before) and, while the humor...more
Dolors
An exquisite collection of five short stories that deals with complex issues such as the passage of time, lost dreams, second chances and unpredictable encounters. Always with the presence of music, night and potential romance.

Like a good symphony, every story is like a movement, which seems independent but which is in fact part of a greater whole.
Apparently simple melodies that actually hide sad, haunting stories of lonely and dissatisfied people and the opportunities life gives them to redeem...more
Emir Never
Oct 09, 2012 Emir Never rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Emir Never by: Monique
This is Kazuo Ishiguro's first short story collection, dubbed by the publisher as "story cycle", perhaps suggestive of the common thread of the stories: music, musicians, and nightfall (here, representing failures, regrets, and unfulfilled dreams and desires).

Crooner (Two stars)

Janeck, the guitar player of the band playing outside the piazza spots someone in the crowd, sitting alone with his coffee: Tony Gardner, a star crooner, his mother's favorite back in the communist days. It turns out Tony...more
Seth Hahne
I never know how to review collections of short stories.

It would be one thing if stories in a given collection were monolithic in terms of tone and quality. This, of course, is never the case. And is, by extension, not the case with Kazuo Ishiguro's collection of five stories, Nocturne. Three of these shorts I loved, one I liked a lot, and the other is of the variety where I'd be tempted to say, Let's just be friends, and then gradually distance myself until we were more acquaintances than anyt...more
Nancy (NE)
This collection will most likely not have the import for someone who is not a musician. It seems like five trivial stories on the surface. But there is an emotional undercurrent not everyone would recognize. Ishiguro exposed so many issues fundamental to any artist. For a musician, there is an intimate relationship with their art - impossible to express fully without a deep connection to who you are as a person. You give yourself away, lay yourself bare in every performance. It is a shared relat...more
Ariadna73
09-01-2011- I finished the five stories and I liked them all. Some are more rounded than others (for example; come rain or come shine ends abruptly whereas Nocturne has a very defined ending) I liked the way the author mentioned and analized music in a way that made me feel it without even listening to the actual songs. And some of the stories are really hilarious (Crooner; Marven Hills) I lauged a lot with the different funny scenes. In sum; very entertaining and another evidence of the big tal...more
Ben Babcock
I picked this up off the library shelf based solely on the fact that I’ve enjoyed the other works of Kazuo Ishiguro that I’ve read—particularly the stellar The Remains of the Day . Music doesn’t capture me in the same way that it does many of my friends. That is to say, I find music powerful and compelling, but stories about music don’t always hold the same allure for me. Bell Canto stands out as a notable exception; most end up like Overture though.

Nocturnes isn’t a novel, though, but an anth...more
Alta
Sep 25, 2011 Alta added it
Nocturnes is the first book by Kazuo Ishiguro I’ve ever read. I often avoid reading books by famous contemporary authors because they are usually overrated, and I prefer to give my time to underappreciated writers. But Ishiguro was a nice surprise. I read this collection of five short stories in a day—which is very unlike me. The stories have a false simplicity, that is, they are written in an unassuming style, and are all related to music in some way (it is clear that the author is not only a l...more
notgettingenough

I bought this the other day. Nice copy, hard cover, dust-jacket in good nick, a few Swiss francs, no more – everything to make the bookseller in me happy, not to mention the book collector, one being much the same as the other. I had to argue a bit along the way. You’ve read that. Have not. Have too. Have NOT!!! And I was right. Got home, checked shelves, have not read this. NOT NOT NOT. I’m right and you’re wrong, NYAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Last night I opened it - rest here:

http://alittleteaalittlecha...more
Quân Khuê
dịu dàng quá, dịu dàng không chịu nổi:) thuộc thể loại gái sẽ thích:)
Andrew
First of all, let me say that I'm a bit of an Ishiguro fan. I've read all but one of his novels, and love his understated writing style and knack of dealing with big themes while appearing to do no more than tell a story. So I was excited when I heard he had a new book out, and anticipated it more than any other for quite a while.

So if my review contains a note of disappointment, it could be because my expectations were so high to begin with. After all, I did enjoy these stories. They were as we...more
David Hebblethwaite
My first Ishiguro book, Nocturnes is a cycle of ‘five stories of music and nightfall’ (says the front cover). I spent most of the book feeling curiously unsatisfied; and I still feel that way now I’ve finished it. As far as I can see, the stories are linked so tenuously as to be hardly worth considering as a ‘cycle’. If Ishiguro has a wider point to make with them, I’m not sure what that point is. And if the tales are meant to be entertaining, insightful, or moving… well, bar a couple of moments...more
Monique
Apr 25, 2012 Monique rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Angus

Original post HERE.

NOCTURNE as defined in the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary:


noc-turne. noun. \ˈnäk-ˌtərn\ a work of art dealing with evening or night; especially : a dreamy pensive composition for the piano — compare aubade


My heart was full to bursting after reading Nocturnes. Kazuo Ishiguro's works always have that effect on me: they make me reflect, ponder, and ruminate on the themes that were subtly interwoven into the narrative. The five stories in his latest offering, Nocturnes, are no...more
Imogen
I got this in an airport in Bristol because I'd never seen it before, but it was in paperback, so I figured it was an English Ishiguro book that just never made it to the states. Which is perfect! But no, turns out it's new and it was just an airport paperback special (like the paperback Breaking Dawns). But whatever! I forgot that I like Ishiguro so much! Never Let Me Go was one of the saddest, nicest things ever, and I read The Remains of the Day a hundred and fifty years ago, when I was in co...more
BrokenTune [Disclaimer: My opinion is not paid for by Amazon.]
Edited 24.07.14:

Way too slow-paced and subtle to keep me focused on the stories.

Proper review to follow. Maybe. Or not.

Suffice it to say that some authors can pull off short stories but are not great at novels, and some are great novelists but struggle to deal with the confines of the short story format. Very few can do both.

I love Ishiguro as a novelist.
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Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄) is a British novelist of Japanese origin. His family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from University of Kent in 1978 and his Master's from the University of East Anglia's creative writing course in 1980. He became a British citizen in 1982. He now lives in London.
His first novel, A Pale View of Hills won the 1982 Winifred Holtby...more
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Never Let Me Go The Remains of the Day When We Were Orphans An Artist of the Floating World A Pale View of Hills

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