Hannah's Reviews > Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro
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Mar 29, 2012

really liked it

I picked this up because “The Remains of the Day” is one of my absolute favorits books. The prose is so melancholy and dreamlike and the characters are so expertly drawn. Nocturns did not rate as high as “The Remains of the Day” (few things do), but nonetheless it was a beautifully written book.

“Nocturnes” is a collection of short stories about music and night time. There are five stories, each slightly connected: Crooner, Come Rain or Come Shine, Malvern Hills, Nocturne, and Cellists.

I absolutely loved the title story; it followed Steve and Lindy Gardner, both of whom are recovering from having major plastic surgery. Lindy is famous for being famous while Steve is a struggling musician. The story is beautifully written (as all Ishiguro’s stories are) and he truly captures the magic and splendor of wandering around a hotel at night. Lindy was a fascinating character; she longs to be talented like Steve, but is simply a public figure, though she worked hard even to get there. I could really relate to that immediate jealousy and slight hatred of those who have a real gift, especially a real artistic gift.

My other favorite story was Malvern Hills, which follows another struggling musician as he works at a cafe his sister runs next to the Malvern Hills. I thought the descriptions of the struggle to write music and the partnership that exists only between musicians were both wonderfully done.
The rest of the stories were passable, but not brilliant. Crooner is about the sacrifices we make for those we love and how music can recall memories and emotions. It was lovely in a melancholy way, but did not hold my attention for very long. Cellists follows a young, promising cellist and his relationship with a woman who wants to help mature his talent. The character of the young cellist was well done, but the twist made the story unlikable and it seemed as though Ishiguro was trying to convey something that the characters were unable to bring out. The other story, Come Rain or Come Shine, was my least favorite. It is about the struggles of a married couple and the friend brought in to fix them. None of the characters seemed quite real and all were unlikeable. Again, it had a sort of twist that degraded rather than enhanced the story.

All in all, I would say read Malvern Hills and Nocturne (and Crooner if you want some context for Nocturne), but the rest are skippable.
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