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Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  23,524 ratings  ·  2,517 reviews
One of the most celebrated writers of our time gives us his first cycle of short fiction: five brilliantly etched, interconnected stories in which music is a vivid and essential character.

A once-popular singer, desperate to make a comeback, turning from the one certainty in his life . . . A man whose unerring taste in music is the only thing his closest friends value in h
Hardcover, 221 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Knopf Canada
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Todd Great question. While I enjoyed them all, I liked Crooner best. It gave me pause, because it took a direction I didn't expect.
Great question. While I enjoyed them all, I liked Crooner best. It gave me pause, because it took a direction I didn't expect.

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Oct 15, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
I´ve read the book “Beim Anbruch der Nacht” written by Kazuo Ishiguro. This book is based on 5 short stories, which are all about music and musicians. In comparison to his novels you can see a completely different side of the author, but I have to say that his other literature and Romans are on higher level.
In this other side, I did not get closer to Ishiguro. His characters seem artificial, even linguistically I found these stories not strong enough.
I had read much better of him before.
Sean Barrs
The music of the past will always remain in the past. In the future new notes can and will be played. Ishiguro explores the themes of love and loss. In letting go of the past, one can move forward and embrace new things. Getting stuck is detrimental, and sometimes love is forsaken (foolishly?) for the sake of such things.

So this collection of stories is deep and, at times, deeply moving. The first few had a haunting like effect. They played on my minds for days, as I imagined what I would do in
Jr Bacdayan
Mar 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Life's disappointments have never been chronicled in a more elegant manner. The stories feel like dreams. You close your eyes and take the journey, but just when you're about to see the summit, suddenly you're jolted awake to reality filled with a sense of disillusionment and regret. Simple, devastating, lingering, it's a pity that some stories pale in comparison to others. ...more
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
Apr 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
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
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall, Kazuo Ishiguro
Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall is a 2009 collection of short fiction by Kazuo Ishiguro. After six novels, it is Ishiguro first collection of short stories, though described by the publisher as a "story cycle". As the subtitle suggests, each of the five stories focuses on music and musicians, and the close of day. The hardback was published by Faber and Faber in the United Kingdom on 7 May 2009 and in the United States
Jason Koivu
Mar 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, short-story
Wow! That first short story was fantastic! Too bad the rest of this story-cycle collection of five didn't maintain that same high standard in my first foray in reading Kazuo Ishiguro's work.

In case you're interested, here is Wikipedia's synopsis of each story:

"Crooner" - Set in Venice, a fading American singer co-opts a Polish cafe musician into accompanying him while he serenades his wife (whose relationship is disintegrating) from a gondola.

"Come Rain or Come Shine" - In London, an expatriate
Daniel Clausen
Jul 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2017
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 f
Greta G

Based on the title, you'd expect something like this : https://youtu.be/4obAjW07-tg

Actually though, it's more like this : https://youtu.be/rjiy3ELROuo
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
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
Sam Quixote
May 01, 2019 rated it liked it
A crooner and his wife take a sad holiday together; an old friend is drafted in to help out a failing marriage – with hilarious results; a budding songwriter meets an elderly married pair of Swiss musicians on holiday in the English countryside; an unsuccessful musician resorts to plastic surgery in a desperate bid for fame; a young cellist meets an older woman who claims to be a virtuoso cellist herself – except she can’t play the instrument! These are the five stories that make up Kazuo Ishigu ...more
Barry Pierce
I quite enjoyed this small selection of stories. I'd read a lot of bad reviews for this collection but I really can't fault it that much. Of course this isn't Carver or Shirley Jackson but I think all of these stories are perfectly good. If you enjoy slow, atmospheric stories in which nothing much happens then you'll like this collection. ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
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 redee
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 05, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Edward Lorn
I'm drunk. Not going to try and pretend like I'm not. If you'd like to be drunk, too, I suggest buying a six pack of NOT YOUR FATHER'S ROOT BEER. Cheers.

Chicago commercial photographers

On to the review.

I was impressed two times out of five with this collection. The first and third stories are damn good. Good enough that I want to try one of this guy's novels. The first story, "Crooner", was, by far, my favorite. Ishiguro put me in Venice, and I enjoyed my trip. The third story, "Malvern Hills", was another exceptional piec
Jan 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music, british
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
Éimhear (A Little Haze)
A beautiful collection of short stories that have whetted my appetite for reading more of Kazuo Ishiguro's writing in 2018. I found the writing to be quietly melancholic, disarmingly beautiful and perfectly bittersweet. I loved how in many of the stories the concepts of what both falling in love and staying in love truly meant were explored. My favourite story was "Crooner" but I very much enjoyed them all and was moved by each in different ways.

As music is so integral to these stories, instead
Paul Secor
A short time ago, I made a decision to read several books with music as part of their themes. I decided to start by reading Nocturnes, and have since regretted that choice. I found nothing in the music recounted in any of the stories that I could relate to in the least, I found the characters uninteresting, and the writing seemed simplistic (and not in any positive sense of that word). Two of the stories, "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Nocturne" could easily have served as the plotlines for chee ...more
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Five relatively short stories, with music as binding theme, or at least at first glance. Because if you process them all, then it appears Ishiguro rather focussed on how people get stuck in the past and by an impression they once had of someone, years later they still draw totally wrong conclusions. In each of the stories it’s the story telling narrator that notices this and has to cope with it, powerless. Not all stories are successful; for me especially the first story, The Crooner, excelled: ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Congratulations on winning the Nobel prize, Mr. Ishiguro 💙
Never let us go!
Simon Fay
Jun 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Here's a nice diversion I was glad to have picked up, in part because the stories are short, pleasant worlds that I could dip my toes into on a sunny day, but also because I have an interest in the craft of writing, and the quality throughout the book varied so drastically that I found my curiosity piqued.

The collection boasts two standout stories about love, life and music. The simple prose in these offerings hint at a deep pool of emotion. However, the three other stories made me think the hin
Mar 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
How can a person write in such a relaxed way and yet generate such tension in his stories? I don't mean tension because of action and intrigue, but tension because of emotions and relationships. This is a collection of five short stories and they are told with masterful ease and yet they subliminally build tension, especially Come Rain and Come Shine: I had to read some of this quite quickly because I couldn't bear the tension between the characters. I guess Ishiguro is sort of the master of und ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sweet, endearing, nostalgic set of short stories, all interconnected.
All somehow about music and the unknown musicians of this world.
Just like with all the Kazuo’s books I’ve read so far, in the end I can’t truly decide whether I feel happy and hopeful in the best-of-what-is-yet-to-come or chest tightened and deeply melancholic...
All I know is that I genuinely LOVE his books!
This is an interesting collection of stories all narrated by the same young male musician. Each of the stories is set in a different location and features rather quirky people in awkward short-term relationships. The stories very effectively portray the kind of insecure and stumbling interchanges which sometimes occur between people who don't know each other very well. This style of writing is new for me, and I found it sad, amusing, and realistic. The endings of the stories are mini-cliff-hange ...more
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: free, 2018, short-story
This was a wonderful short story. It brought back story in an interesting way that didn't take away from the rest of the story and I appreciate that. Wonderfully written and I greatly enjoyed it. ...more
Jun 22, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Toria (Please call me Leo)
I'm sad to say this about something written by Kazuo Ishiguro but this was a snooze fest. My disliking for short stories set aside, I wouldn't have enjoyed any of the short story as a full fleshed novel. ...more
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Sir Kazuo Ishiguro (カズオ・イシグロ or 石黒 一雄), OBE, FRSA, FRSL is a British novelist of Japanese origin and Nobel Laureate in Literature (2017). His family moved to England in 1960. Ishiguro obtained his Bachelor's degree from the 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.


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