Abeer Hoque's Reviews > The Unconsoled

The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro
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's review
Jul 06, 2010

it was ok
Read from July 06 to 12, 2010

This tome of a book follows Ryder, a master pianist about to give a recital in a city he knows and doesn't, with a cast of characters he sometimes remembers but vaguely, from a past that looms and recedes in his possibly brain damaged mind. I think he's dreaming, which would account for the impossible passage of time, and his conversations, the lengths and omniscience of which are impossible, unless you (he) (everyone) were on an acid trip.

The unnamed Eastern European city setting is vivid in my mind, along with its myriad of hapless, desperately unhappy (and spiraling) citizens. But then again, if you have 552 pages to work with, perhaps you could do the same. I'm being unfair. Mr. Ishiguro manages a unusual readability, even when everything is repeated and roundabout and relentlessly detailed. But I can't say I was taken with any one character's plight, and it was rather like watching a train wreck, but without the heart and feeling of "A Fine Balance" (another train wreck and tome of a book). While the characters themselves were distinct, they all had the exact same way of speaking, and each caught up in small tragedies and unreasonable expectations. Like in the horror movies where you want to yell, turn around! Run faster! For god's sake, don't draw that pentagram! I kept wanting to say, Just say what you think. Do what you wish. Leave town. Don't look back. You have everything you need within you.

I know this is the way of the world, but the people of "The Unconsoled" weren't especially interesting to me. It's also my bias - as someone who hates being late, or forgetting an appointment - it was unbearably stressful to watch Ryder do this over and over again, with ever more critical consequences. After a while, I had to stop caring or stop reading. I did the former, but only because it was a fiction exploring memory and reality. If I weren't writing about these themes, I'm not sure I'd have finished it.

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