Dina Desveaux's Reviews > A Tale for the Time Being

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
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really liked it

Has it all been said?

I’ll start here: if you’re looking for an easy, fast-paced read, this likely isn't the book for you. If, however, you’re a patient reader who likes to meditate upon the meaning of time, life, death and all the multifaceted complexities in between, you will find sparkly gems in A Tale for the Time Being.

There are so many aspects to love about this book starting with the character of Nao and the premise of her diary washing ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox. Then there are all the wonderful ideas and themes –time, life & death, bullying, suicide, child prostitution, Alzheimers, quantum physics, Zen Buddhism, to name a few – which suspend the narrative (for times being) through great scholarly footnotes.

Some of the more scientific themes are also ruminated upon by the character of Oliver, which is the one aspect I found unrealistic and too hyperbolic to be delivered through dialogue. Those sections made the plot slow-paced (read: excruciating) in parts.

In her New York Times review, Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote:
“That may prove exasperating to those readers who, like this only very occasional meditator, respond more naturally to the sensation of moving on — with a book plot or with life — than to that of sitting still, just being.”

I guess I’m not an accomplished meditator and although I do love to chew upon many of the same themes as Ozeki, I thought it was just one or two themes too many.

The author set up a fascinating story which compelled me to finish and for that reason my rating is 3 stars. I am, however, rounding WAY up to 4 stars because of the sheer potential & those sections of writing where Ozeki's writing chops soar. Chalk it up to Quantum Mathematics:) I also believe that with such a captivating and unique story line that came so close to having me completely enraptured THIS NOVEL COULD EASILY BE 5 STARS. All it needed was a little more editing and pruning.

UPDATE: Glad I opted for quantum math in my rating since apparently this book was able to create the mind space where parallel worlds can collide. Up. Down. Same Thing. Alive. Dead. Same Thing -Thank you Ruth Ozeki
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Reading Progress

May 21, 2013 – Shelved
May 21, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
May 27, 2013 – Started Reading
June 20, 2013 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Bursey Dina, though hesitant, I'd recommend the two volumes of _My Struggle_ by Karl Ove Knausgaard, if you're interested in slow reads that contain so much good writing (in translation) and absolutely sterling passages.


Dina Desveaux Thanks Jeff.
I think I'll likely be diving into my summer reads (usually mysteries). I tend to buy those in paperback so it doesn't matter as much if they accidentally get wet (I like to read in the middle of the lake in my kayak).
I'll definitely mark your recommendation as to-read around the time the wood stove is needed again.

Cheers, Dina


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