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Book Club > 5/18 A Pale View Of Hills

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message 1: by Carol (last edited Apr 30, 2018 10:59AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments This is our discussion thread for our May selection, Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of Hills.

I read it in three days and finished it a couple of weeks ago in anticipation of this discussion. Now I’m waiting for everyone to weigh in on what I read because I have been unable to reach any conclusion with which I’m entirely satisfied. The selling point there is that I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro


message 2: by Agnetta (last edited Apr 30, 2018 06:18AM) (new)

Agnetta | 300 comments my copy is travelling towards me as we speak. I am getting the cover with peach colors : A Pale View of Hills- that at least is already an aspect i am excited about, as I turned into a book-collector lately :)


message 3: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments Agnetta wrote: "my copy is travelling towards me as we speak. I am getting the cover with peach colors : A Pale View of Hills- that at least is already an aspect i am excited about, as I turned into..."

That cover is lovely! Book collecting is a fine, fine addiction.


message 4: by Simon (new)

Simon Fletcher | 7 comments I read this last year and really loved it. The ambiguity of the ending is endlessly fascinating. Like you though Carol I don't think I've fully resolved that ambiguity yet though.


message 5: by Alan (new)

Alan I'm another waiting for my copy... Have read many of his other books, and generally am a fan. I am, however, still unconvinced about the Nobel Prize. Especially in relation to other Japanese writers, but I'm sure a lot will come out in the wash over the next month...


message 6: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments @Alan, are you following the Nobel committee events?

http://www.svenskaakademien.se/en/pre...


message 7: by Alan (new)

Alan Carol, no I wasn't but many thanks for the link. I'm sure rewarding Ishiguro wasn't the cause of any problems but who knows... It's a closed world after all. Someone will always disagree with any award, but I hope the Nobel committee doesn't implode... Mind you, after Bob Dylan maybe it should.... :)


message 8: by Swathi (new)

Swathi Shetty (swathishetty) | 20 comments I'm reading the first chapter and it's interesting so far:)


message 9: by Christian (new)

Christian (comeauch) | 230 comments I hadn't realized a new Nobel prize had been awarded... I usually try to read something from that author so I think I'll join for this one! I agree with Alan regarding Bob Dylan, that was a bit alienating.


Dioni (Bookie Mee) (dioni) | 157 comments I might join the discussion near the end of the month, as I'm trying to finish my last essay for Uni before I can start reading for fun again!


message 11: by J (new)

J | 67 comments I read this quite a while back and remember feeling blown away by it, and how everything seemed to come together. It's one of my favourite Ishiguro works.


message 12: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments Dioni (Bookie Mee) wrote: "I might join the discussion near the end of the month, as I'm trying to finish my last essay for Uni before I can start reading for fun again!"

Best of luck, Dioni!


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments I loved a lot about this book and admit to being pleasantly surprised initially at how accessible it is. Rather than having to read 20 - 40 pages in order to feel like I was "in", I was immediately drawn in to the story and the characters. That's a talent I wish more literary authors possessed.

One of the few things I disliked was that I didn't feel connected to the places in which events occurred. The British parts of the novel could take place anywhere in Britain. I had no sense of location. I had very much hoped to have more of a sense of Nagasaki, but -- except for the references to the ground/soil, and the two homes and the river - I found them so vague as to leave me with no firm impressions. It's an internal story, satisfying in its own right but not one grounded particularly in place, to me, except for what the reader brings to the story in terms of knowledge of Nagasaki.


message 14: by Carol (last edited May 01, 2018 08:39AM) (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments Here's an audio of a 1-hour interview of Ishiguro from a month after Pale View of Hills was first published. I found it fascinating. His poise, given his age at the time his first novel, is impressive.

Spoilers abound, of course.

https://sounds.bl.uk/Arts-literature-...


message 15: by Swathi (new)

Swathi Shetty (swathishetty) | 20 comments I'm three fourth done with the book and no idea where this is going!!! And I love it!😍


message 16: by Swathi (new)

Swathi Shetty (swathishetty) | 20 comments Done with the book! And I'm dying to discuss it with everyone!!


message 17: by Alan (new)

Alan The pleasant noise of a book dropping through your letter box... So I now have a copy of the book. Will (hopefully) start it Sunday or Monday. Looking forward to a challenging read and some insight into what it might all actually mean!!


message 18: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments Alan wrote: "The pleasant noise of a book dropping through your letter box... So I now have a copy of the book. Will (hopefully) start it Sunday or Monday. Looking forward to a challenging read and some insight..."

That would be a most excellent sound, indeed.


message 19: by Jeshika (new)

Jeshika Paperdoll (jeshikapaperdoll) | 213 comments I’m here to join the confusion. I just finished the book today. I enjoyed it a lot, but I don’t have a clue what I’m meant to be taking from it. (:


message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments Should we set up a spoiler thread in order to discuss the ending without impacting members who haven't read/finished it yet?

I will still remember my confusion in another week, but we have that option (opening another thread).


message 21: by Ian (new)

Ian Josh | 271 comments No spoilers

41pp in.

Beautifully written and hard to put down, however, in my mind I am not specifically picturing Japan, but can just as easily imagine this is the tale of a few English women.

Can everyone else feel that? That this is certainly not a part of a J. Lit cannon? (This is not a complaint, BTW, as it's very interesting to use this as a comparison to so much of the other books we/I read).


message 22: by Jeshika (new)

Jeshika Paperdoll (jeshikapaperdoll) | 213 comments I find the dialogue to fit other J. Lit I’ve read. It always seems very stunted and repetitive almost as if people are just going through the motions and aren’t really interested in the conversations at all. Although Etsuko and Ogata-san’s dynamic is wonderful, and seems so much more sassy than anything I’ve read in J. Lit before.


message 23: by Ian (new)

Ian Josh | 271 comments I feel closer to A Passage to India than one to Nagasaki... ;) (although that was as much about Indian culture as it was about British... )

Still, Ishiguro is pulling me along and setting me up for some surprises I feel.


message 24: by Alan (last edited May 07, 2018 09:35AM) (new)

Alan No spoilers in this post, just...slight bemusement!

Finished the book today, and then spent some time browsing through book reviews, interviews with Ishiguro, and other bits and pieces on the internet. I think we will all agree the book raises lots of questions. I will continue to ponder and probably re-read bits again once the conversation gets going properly once others have had time to finish.

One initial thought on the points raised by others re. how much is the book about Japan? Ishiguro himself hadn't been back since he left as a small child, so is the predominance of the theme of memory as much about him as the characters? Descriptions of place are pretty vague, both in the scenes in Japan and those in UK, and the themes of the changing generations and attitudes to tradition/authority are universal... Is 'The Remains of the Day' actually more 'Japanese' than this in its themes?

Oh - and here's another random thought: how important is authorial intent? If the book can raise various interpretations like this does, is it important to know what the author actually intended? Is it best that authors stay quiet about what the book 'means'? Is it our need for answers? Are some readers unhappy at not having everything neatly tied-up for them?

Sorry about the ramble.... I'm trying not to discuss the nitty-gritty of the plot!!


message 25: by Agnetta (last edited May 08, 2018 01:44AM) (new)

Agnetta | 300 comments After The Buried Giant, I am totally prepared for this. Now the Giant, thát was diffcult to interpret. Still I really enjoyed that tale. Did it go anywhere. Well. Who knows. I though it did. Loved it.

In Pale view, in comparison, I don't feel so lost as about the meaning for now. I just enjoy Etsuko remembering, reliving, discovering her memories with her, feeling the impacts of the events that just happen, without us being able to steer really.

The dialogues feel very Japanese to me, they make me think of the tipical Japanese movies like Aruitemo aruitemo, so in that sense, yes, it feels quite Japanese literature to me. The formality, the care in chosing the words, the way they always try to be so polite and forecoming. Except for the "exception" character. (but i will not add any spoier ;) ) Could it be Ishiguro picked that up from his parents, the japanese rhythms of conversation ?

So for now, I am really enjoying it (page 88) and don't need it to go anywhere.


message 26: by Ian (new)

Ian Josh | 271 comments Maybe part of Ishiguro's point is that Sachiko is an outlier.

The family discussions (with Ogata) feel at place for J-lit, but anything with Sachiko feels off to me... seems like many disagree, so I'll keep an open mind for part 2.


message 27: by Agnetta (new)

Agnetta | 300 comments Josh wrote: "Maybe part of Ishiguro's point is that Sachiko is an outlier.

The family discussions (with Ogata) feel at place for J-lit, but anything with Sachiko feels off to me... seems like many disagree, s..."


I totally agree actually. She seems completely out of the japanese standards. Very western reactions.


message 28: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments I found it to be a very Japanese novel, in terms of how Etsuko and Nikki communicated - the indirect-ness of Etsuko and her telling of these anecdotes about Sachiko, the trouble sleeping and retelling of dreams.

Sachiko was off always. There was little to no basis for Sachiko and Etsuko to develop a friendship - if that is what one would call their interactions.

I agree that her reactions are very Western. So are her values. She seems to have no sense of duty or obligation or being part of a larger community. She's all about the id. I wish I had picked up on this whilst reading the novel, lol.

In terms of authorial intent, I am always annoyed at authors and other artists who want to turn questions around and take the position that the work means whatever it means to the reader or viewer. Bah. I admire that Ishiguro never did this. When asked the key question about this book (which I won't spoil), he seemed to honestly state that he doesn't know the answer and didn't think of the need to resolve it. I think he's even said, it's not a very good book, in a self-deprecating manner - because it was his first novel. I disagree with him, but find that reaction charming.


message 29: by Agnetta (last edited May 09, 2018 01:32AM) (new)

Agnetta | 300 comments haha if this is not a good book majority of writers can just, you know, give up and do something else 😃


message 30: by Swathi (new)

Swathi Shetty (swathishetty) | 20 comments I love how uniquely Japanese authors write! You can see the uniqueness in every Japanese book!


message 31: by Agnetta (new)

Agnetta | 300 comments I finished it.

I was panicked at first, but after few hours I did find an explanation that for me gives me peace so now I am happy. Waiting for people to finish reading so that we can hopefully kick off the enigma solving discussion.

not sure if my explanation "works" completely, but at least it gave me a reason to love it 100%. :)


message 32: by Ian (new)

Ian Josh | 271 comments Shall we choose a day to just let loose? Warn anyone coming late and share our reactions?

With this in mind, it would almost be advantageous to have two threads, one for those along the way and a separate one for those finished...


message 33: by Christian (new)

Christian (comeauch) | 230 comments I think it's fine to go ahead and discuss it here Josh... Just avoid or tag major spoilers if possible. I've been semi-avoiding this thread because I plan to read it, so I think it's fair we share responsibility on that :P (Is it even the kind of story that can be spoiled? The book seems on the short side!)


message 34: by Agnetta (new)

Agnetta | 300 comments Not a bad idea, as we should let loose before we forget our speculations :D.


message 35: by Agnetta (last edited May 14, 2018 03:56AM) (new)

Agnetta | 300 comments Christian wrote: " (Is it even the kind of story that can be spoiled? The book seems on the short side!) "
oh yes absolutely. you have to very carefully avoid reading spoilers here or the whole read will just never be the same for you. I woudl have hated to read any detailed review or opinion on this without being able to let myself just fall into the enigma.


message 36: by Ian (new)

Ian Josh | 271 comments SPOILERS!!!!!









Am I right that the main puzzle here is a matter of putting together who then is who now? I am avoiding any outside analysis as I puzzle it to her, but what were others impressions upon finishing??


Or did anyone read it more straightforwardly??


message 37: by Carol (new)

Carol (carolfromnc) | 1321 comments Here’s a link to a discussion thread where we can discuss the book, as a whole, without using spoiler tags.

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 38: by Dioni (Bookie Mee) (last edited May 26, 2018 10:26AM) (new)

Dioni (Bookie Mee) (dioni) | 157 comments I was finally done with Uni, so I'm currently reading this and halfway through (just entered Part Two). Thanks for that separate thread, somehow I manage to avoid spoilers so far!

My thoughts so far:
Some dialogues could feel very repetitive, and this is not just for the Japanese characters (supposedly speaking in Japanese), but also the characters speaking in English in the English setting. I just find it rather odd.

Occasionally I'm a bit confused on how to read this, knowing that this is not a translated work, and Ishiguro really wrote this in English. Does he even speak Japanese? At times it felt like translated work, especially the dialogue, but I doubt he wrote the dialogue in Japanese first, then translated it to English. This 'awkwardness' happened for me for instance when Etsuko referred to Sachiko's man as "friend", and somehow I wondered what was actually written in Japanese (what word the author used in the original language to understand the subtleties of the situation) -- but then this was written in English, so there's never a Japanese word for it, hah.

This is the 4th of Ishiguro's books I'm reading, so I've kind of anticipated this style of building and brewing something for the entire book with hints and clues dropped sparingly, then ending it with a bang however loose the interpretation could be. So we'll see. I expect to jump onto the spoilers thread soonish :)


message 39: by Ian (new)

Ian Josh | 271 comments Not sure if he speaks Japanese, but I'd guess he doesn't have the ability to write it, let alone Skillfully.


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