After immensely enjoying "The Remains of the Day," I also enjoyed this book by Ishiguro as well. As with his other book, he employs a type of unreliabAfter immensely enjoying "The Remains of the Day," I also enjoyed this book by Ishiguro as well. As with his other book, he employs a type of unreliable narrator, but an unusual kind. They see so well, and describe things so accurately but something about their remarkable skill in seeing, makes them ironically blind to certain things. For Kathy, the narrator, it's her ability to "read" faces so well, and understand the interior motivations behind someone's actions, their thoughts, but sometimes she can't see what's happening on the surface, or how she is being perceived.
What makes this such an unusual novel as a dystopian sci-fi book is that it is set in the near-past rather than the near-future. Kathy's narration has a sense of loss and longing, a desire to reinterpret her past through her memories, and a want to have done things differently. Because the book is an alternate reality of the 1990s, a parallel universe to ours, but set in the past, the book itself feels like a memory to the reader, of a road that we, or the world, might have travelled. An overriding sense of nostalgia pervades the book, which gives it a power that otherwise a book set in the future, wouldn't have had. You always have the hope that you can change your future, but you can't change the past. Your only alternative is to reexamine your memories and possibly change their meaning to you.
By happy coincidence, I had read "Madame Bovary" (Lydia Davis translation) right before this, and it was a nice surprise to come across the intertextuality between the two books. Ishiguro obviously immensely enjoyed Flaubert's novel, as he plays around some of the same concepts as the power of the gaze, using framing devices as windows and open doors, and the uses of mirrors/reflective devices as both a physical object (including emotional reflection through person's gaze), and as a structuring tool to organize and reverse scenes. He even has a character named "Madame." It added another level of enjoyment when reading the book. Like Flaubert, everything is carefully crafted and Ishiguro is very economical with his words. It is worth rereading....more
My 1st Jane Austen book and it broke my misconceptions of her as an author and of this particular genre of writing.
Because this is a Victorian-era novMy 1st Jane Austen book and it broke my misconceptions of her as an author and of this particular genre of writing.
Because this is a Victorian-era novel, I had expected a book heavy with overlong sentences and needless descriptions of everything, and because Austen is known as a romance writer, I had also expected to be only mildly interested in the going-on of the romantic lives of 17th century nobles. I'm a dude; I shouldn't like romance novels written almost 200 years ago.
I was far wrong.
I encountered a book with terrific characterization. Her ability to compare and contrast her characters is amazing, not just using other characters to highlight their unique differences but also using inanimate objects, often for humorous effect (like Marriane's melancholy over trees that can no longer enjoy her presence). Her prose is actually quite succinct once you understand how she uses punctuation to break up long sentences; It's as if the book is meant to be read out loud.
The short chapters make for compelling and easy reading. There is a page-turning quality to the book, especially in the last one third as the action builds up.
Austen wit and insight into human behavior is remarkably contemporary (I guess, that's what makes great authors great -- they stay relevant) and I see why her books are still read today.