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A Tale for the Time Being
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Book Discussions > A Tale for the Time Being: Discussion Part 1

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Elli (The Bibliophile) (thebibliophilebooks) | 53 comments This is the discussion for the first part of the novel! Please indicate if your post includes spoilers!

Happy reading!


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Hello wonderful people, I hope you guys started reading this beautiful book because I did. And I already love it

Mild Spoiler Alert

Disclaimer: I’m a sucker for Japanese authors and I might be slightly impartial. Also, excuse my shitty English.

When I started this, I didn’t know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. I read the first 50 pages in less than a hour because the story is really engaging, and fluid until I got to the point where Ruth talks about reading a bit a the time depending on how fast she ‘’feels ‘’ the author wrote. After that point I decided to read this book based on my feeling. I let everything run its course. Sometimes I read 1 page a day, sometimes 50 in a hour. How do you guys feel about this?

I have a really hard time deciding so far which perspective is my favourite but I gravitate towards Ruth’s because Nao’s language is a bit adolescent-like for me. Do you have a favourite so far? (But too be honest Olive is my favourite, I love his character).

In this first part there are a lot of discussions about time: time lost, time regained, time beings and it got me thinking so hard that I got dizzy and dreamt I was stuck in a time vortex. Seriously now, I don’t think there is such thing as lost time but that is just me and I would love to hear other opinions.

Anyway, I’m excited to find out what happens next, what happened to Nao and to learn more about the greatest grandma that has ever lived.
Bye!


message 3: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G (gingerrachelle) So far I am really loving this book I am just about halfway through. I actually voted for the other one but this one was available at the library first. Right now I am more invested in Nao just because I really want to know what happens to her and to her parents. I enjoy Ruth's POV but I find her a tiny bit boring sometimes. The parts where Nao talks about what's happening in school have made me really uncomfortable because I can relate to them. I actually find myself cringing, squirming, and I get a queasy feeling when she speaks about it. It takes me right back to my days in middle school.

Hope everyone else is having a good time reading!!


message 4: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G (gingerrachelle) I tend to read by feeling/mood. Sometimes I rush through a book because I just feel like I need to finish it to find out how it ends. I have been known to put down a book for over a month at a time. It really all comes down to my mood.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I did relate to Nao as well but for some reasons I can't connect with her as I do with Ruth. Ad i too am usually a mood driven reader but from now and then i try and take little breaks from reading just so i can assimilate and reflect on what I've read. Do you have a favorite scene so far?


message 6: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G (gingerrachelle) This is what I love about books. 2 people can read the exact same book and relate to totally different aspects! I can't say I have a favorite scene but my favorite part is learning something about Japanese culture that I previously had no knowledge of. What about you? What's your favorite part so far?


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

YEEY, i love it when people want to know more about Japan. Also I agree with you: different perspectives on books=awesomeness.

I don't have a favorite part as well but i do enjoy reading about Oliver because like the way his mind works and his thirst for knowledge.


message 8: by Adira (last edited Aug 07, 2014 02:29PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adira (introvertinterrupted) | 391 comments Mod
So I just finished part one and whew! Is this book's narrative gripping! Like G, I'm totally uncomfortable with the way that Nao is being treated by her classmates and even by an authority figure. I think it's mind boggling that the Japanese culture actually has a specific culture for bullying and suicide. Yet, I'm really enjoying this book in terms of learning about Japan and it's culture.

I think it's so interesting that Ozeki inserts specific text in Japanese and then gives brief history and translations in the footnotes. I like learning about the translations because it seems like we are a part of the "YOU" that Nao is writing to. I also find that I feel different when I read Nao's section vs. when I read Ruth's section. When I read Nao's part, I feel like I'm being shown a film reel or just reading a story opposed to when I am examining Nao's writing along with Ruth as she reads the novel.

I feel like this difference in approach to the narrative is fascinating in terms of "time." On one hand, I experience things second hand or even third hand through Ruth's pov, but then even with Nao, the first pov makes me feel distant because of the way she is telling her story. This makes me wonder how attached are we suppose to become to the timeline of the book based on Nao's writing.

Also, does anyone wonder if the Ruth in the book is actually Ruth Ozeki or just a fictional character. By this I mean is the author placing herself into the narrative because her character needs an audience and like Nao says, she doesn't even know if anyone will read the book OR is Ruth Ozeki writing herself into the story to help reader have a translator for the Japanese culture.

I'm finding that I have to read book all the way through because I want to know what happens. Ozeki really wrote a whammy of a book here and I personally just want to know what happened to Nao and her Dad and Old Jiko. Hope the book continues to be good.


message 9: by G (new) - rated it 4 stars

G (gingerrachelle) I hadn't thought about Ruth the author being part of the story but now that you mention it I think you may be on to something. I'm less invested somehow when Ruth is the narrator even when she's relating something from Nao. Technically this book could have completely excluded Ruth as the reader of the diary. I'm not sure if I would have liked that but I can't say I'm invested in Ruth other than I want her to find out what happens to Nao.
At first the bullying aspect was mind boggling especially since I was looking through my American eyes. After I really thought about it I realized we (The U.S) aren't all that different. Americans as a group have spent a lot of our time bullying people for all sorts of things since we first became a country. We bully on the basis of race, religion,sexual orientation, weight, and class just to name a few. The difference is we wont admit it and they do. We like to keep those things under wraps. It helps us "other" people so much more efficiently.


message 10: by Adira (last edited Aug 07, 2014 09:36PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Adira (introvertinterrupted) | 391 comments Mod
I don't know I sort of like Ruth. I am curious as to what is really going on with her and Oliver they don't seem like they're as happy or as well adjusted as they seem on the surface.

(view spoiler)

I also agree with you G about how the US has a bully mentality too, but I guess since I'm not use to really labeling it as such, I'm a bit indifferent to it in theory. When Nao is explaining her bullying experience it seems more real and raw opposed to what I'm use to from grade school. These Japanese kids in the story aren't playing. Smh I know bullying happens in America too, but I guess being a kid in the 90's, I'm more use to simple name calling and comments about "yo mama" being the extent of bullying. (view spoiler)

I'm still on the fence about Nao's voice. I want to see her as this simple 13/14 year old, but she seems much older like a 16/18 year old or something. Her voice is too mature. I'm not sure if that's because of her experiences or just the way Ozeki has written her character though.


Louise (atrixa) I just finished part one! I actually voted for the other book, but it's not out in paperback yet in the UK so this was the more economical choice, plus I've heard amazing things about it. So far, I'm really enjoying this book. I'm finding myself very invested in Nao's story and reading about her being bullied makes me very uncomfortable. I absolutely hate reading about this stuff in books, it reminds me of school, which I hated, even though i wasn't bullied that badly.

I'm interested in how Ruth and Oliver's story will pan out. I feel as if there's a bit of a disconnection between them and they both seem to need different things.

I'm really glad to be reading about Japanese culture again, I forgot how beautiful all of the language and Buddhist aspects are. I like how its then put against all the weird sort of geek culture and hentai and suicide that we wouldn't really see in Western culture.


Adira (introvertinterrupted) | 391 comments Mod
Louise,

Thanks so much for bringing up the fact that their is a juxtaposition between the Buddhist subculture in Japan vs. the hentai, geek, and suicide culture. I hadn't even acknowledged that fully until you put it in your post. smh I just find the Japanese culture to be such an interesting culture. It's so well compartmentalized with religion on one side, geek culture on another, and then business and enterprise on the other. It feels like American culture just has everything meshed together, but I'm speaking from the point of view of a person who was born and raised here so the simple nuisance of the culture could be loss on me.

I also agree with you on the Ruth and Oliver front. They don't seem to connect with each other when you're reading the Ruth parts it seems like Oliver is ignorant of Ruth's feelings. He always seems to ask her to do the opposite of what she wants to do and he never picks up on that fact and it's like "what?!?! Why can't you see she doesn't want to hear about your scientific study right now?!" I hope their relationship becomes clearer by the end of the book.


Nicole (nicolepo) I finished the first part of the book last night. Personally, I'm more interested in Nao's portion of the story. The bullying she's experiencing is super intense, and her life situation with her parents seems incredibly crappy as well. Her response to the situation, while understandable, is also pretty messed up at times (view spoiler)

Has anyone else noticed there's a big time discrepancy between when Nao is writing and when the tsunami happened? The dot-com crash happened in the early 2000's (around 2001 if memory serves) and Nao is writing a couple years after. I'd estimate Nao is writing her diary in 2004 or 2005 at the latest. The tsunami happens in 2011 (view spoiler)


Adira (introvertinterrupted) | 391 comments Mod
Nicole wrote: "I finished the first part of the book last night. Personally, I'm more interested in Nao's portion of the story. The bullying she's experiencing is super intense, and her life situation with her pa..."

Nicole, you bought up an interesting point, I never thought of the time difference in Nao's narrative and when Ruth gets the book. I always just took it for granted that Ozeki positioned the two characters' narratives within the same time frame. I hope Ruth is able to find Nao (view spoiler) this book is extremely more compelling than I ever thought it would be.


Louise (atrixa) Yes, I also got a bit confused over the time frames when I was reading the earlier parts. It seems like Nao is writing from a year or so prior to where she was at that moment so she must be 16/17 at the time of writing.


Maria Nilsson (marianilsson) | 17 comments I just finished the first part of this book! I have to say I find it very hard to read about how Nao's being bullied. It's just so heartbreaking. I'm not completely convinced that Japanese culture is so very different from other cultures when it comes to either bullying or suicide though. As brought up earlier in this discussion, I think it's easier to pin point certain things in a culture that is not your own. We all have different expressions for the same core problems. I mean, imagine explaining the whole phenomena with school shootings to someone unfamiliar with American culture.

The time frame is very interesting for the story in my opinion. I've also spent some time trying to figure out how it's all connected but I guess we shall see... Another thing I've been thinking about are the footnotes and how Ruth (the character) is writing them into Nao's story. Could it be that Ruth is using Nao's dairy in her attempt to write her own new best seller? It's obvious she's struggling with her writing, maybe Nao's story will be Ruth's new story so to speak?


Adira (introvertinterrupted) | 391 comments Mod
Maria wrote: "I just finished the first part of this book! I have to say I find it very hard to read about how Nao's being bullied. It's just so heartbreaking. I'm not completely convinced that Japanese culture ..."

Ha! I said something similar about footnotes in pt. 2 of discussion. I didn't notice how much emphases Ozeki put on footnotes til I got further along in the book. I'm still unsure if the Ruth in the book is Ozeki or just a character.


Amber I listened to this book last year and loved it. Ozeki is the narrator and does an amazing job. I also was more interested in Nao's story than Ruth's, but narration switching seemed to work. I haven't read many (if any) books about the Japanese culture and really liked having this glimpse into their world.


Brianne Reeves (bree_reeves) Adira wrote: "So I just finished part one and whew! Is this book's narrative gripping! Like G, I'm totally uncomfortable with the way that Nao is being treated by her classmates and even by an authority figure. ..."

Ruth Ozeki's husband's name is Oliver. She lives on an island in BC, Canada. I don't think it's very Mary Sue. I think it's more like something she imagines could happen? I think her island is on the currents from Japan.


Brianne Reeves (bree_reeves) Nicole wrote: "I finished the first part of the book last night. Personally, I'm more interested in Nao's portion of the story. The bullying she's experiencing is super intense, and her life situation with her pa..."

Nicole, don't worry about the time discrepancy. It gets sorted out


Amber Brianne wrote: "Adira wrote: "So I just finished part one and whew! Is this book's narrative gripping! Like G, I'm totally uncomfortable with the way that Nao is being treated by her classmates and even by an auth..."

I agree that even though there may be some similarities of Ruth's actual life in this book, I think most of it is imagined and fictional.


Adira (introvertinterrupted) | 391 comments Mod
Amber wrote: "I listened to this book last year and loved it. Ozeki is the narrator and does an amazing job. I also was more interested in Nao's story than Ruth's, but narration switching seemed to work. I ha..."

Thanks for telling me that Ozeki narrates the audiobook! I'm listening to it now as I read and her voices are very on point to how I'd imagine the characters. I find it interesting that she chooses to write the book with a character that's so similar to who she is as a person.


message 23: by Violet (last edited Aug 19, 2014 10:11PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Violet Another thing I've been thinking about are the footnotes and how Ruth (the character) is writing them into Nao's story. Could it be that Ruth is using Nao's dairy in her attempt to write her own new best seller? It's obvious she's struggling with her writing, maybe Nao's story will be Ruth's new story so to speak?

I have been thinking about the footnotes after the first part of the book. I have the impression that Ruth (the character) uses them not only to make it easier for the reader to understand the Japanese culture but also to give us her version of Nao's story. I remember one particuar with a comment from Oliver but I think there are more comments that do not have anything to do with Nao. I would have to check to be more specific.

I'm even wondering if some passages are really Nao's narration. I might go too far here but Ruth says in her narrative that she cannot help imagining, she even starts to fill out one of Nao's stories (view spoiler). So maybe some of the Nao parts we read are not really Nao, they could be told by Ruth?


Adira (introvertinterrupted) | 391 comments Mod
Violet wrote: "Another thing I've been thinking about are the footnotes and how Ruth (the character) is writing them into Nao's story. Could it be that Ruth is using Nao's dairy in her attempt to write her own ne..."

Agreed! I have noticed the same thing, but I interpreted this finding as an indicator that this is Ruth, the character's way of formulating a narrative to write her own book on OR maybe it's Ozeki's way of pairing her real life self with her character....I'm still in limbo about with this thought.


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