May 8, 2009

Leaving us unconsoled

"Whatever disappointments this city had brought, there was no doubting that my presence had been greatly appreciated--just as it had been everywhere else I had ever gone. And now here I was, my visit almost at its close, a thoroughly impressive buffet before me offering virtually everything I had ever wished to eat for breakfast. The croissants looked particularly promising."
--The Unconsoled
The most frustrating ending of the most frustrating novel ever: Kazuo Ishiguro's The Unconsoled.

This is a book that puts its readers on edge the whole time, not with fast-paced suspense, but with crushing monotony -- the narrator gets sucked into meaningless tasks that eat up his time, when he should really be doing something else with someone else. Any strict schedule is thrown out the window, he is late to everything, and he disappoints everyone...including the reader, who keeps hoping against hope that the narrator will finally snap out of it and realize that he needs to prioritize if he ever wants to accomplish anything.

There is a time for croissants, and a time not for croissants (this coming from me, no less!). And this was definitely not a time for croissants.

In spite of all this, I still liked the novel and I really enjoy the way Ishiguro spins a story. But don't expect to be satisfied or "consoled" by the ending, which isn't really an ending so much as it is a place where the words stop and the blankness begins.

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