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04 December 2004 @ 11:35 am
Kazuo Ishiguro, A Pale View of Hills  
Once in a while there is a novel allowing my western-oriented mind a first careful glimpse into a different cultural sphere.This book neither asks for very much previous knowledge, nor does it require the iron will to cope with two dozen unfamiliar cultural references per page. Instead, it comes along as an invitation in a familiar handwriting and language, kindly offering to take you out to a place where you have never been.

Kazuo Ishiguro's A Pale view of Hills clearly falls into this particular category. While the author was born in Japan, he spent most of his life in Britain. His narrative voice is a very British one. Subtle but poignant. Rather understating than overdoing it, the most important things  lying between the lines instead of screaming into the reader's face. The most well-known of Ishiguro's novels, also turned into an award-winning movie featuring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, probably is The Remains of the Day, the story of a dutiful butler who takes so much pride in his attitude of subservience that he forgets to live.

I guess, you can't go any more British than that *g*

Ishiguro's first novel A Pale View of Hills, however, uses Britain merely as a frame, a cultural lense through which the book's Japan-based parts are being rendered, for the reader perceives the devastation and disruption of post WWII  Nagasaki through the eyes of Etsuko, a middle-aged Japanese woman, now living in England. As Etsuko dwells on the suicide of her eldest daughter, she becomes increasingly haunted by the memory of Sachiko, an old Nagasaki accquaintance, whom she now subconsciously begins to realize as her own shadow double. As a woman who, in her own headstrong but confused, very desperate way rebelled against the rigid limitations of traditional Japanese society in a time of war-imposed change, years before Etsuko dared to undertake the risk-loaden step of self-liberation herself.

As the plot unfolds up to its cruel, merciless climax, Ishiguro displays a unique talent for the elliptical. Perhaps the novel's finest achievent lies in the fact that A Pale View of Hills allows the reader to pick up all its little mosaic pieces and to form a picture for himself, without too many pre-fabricated hints for interpration.

What is expressed by the mere interaction between Etsuko and her father-in-law or Sachiko goes far beyond what any detailed scholarly description of post-war Japan could ever contain 
Tags: ,
 
 
Current Mood: pensivepensive
Current Music: Les Miserables, Stars
 
 
 
Cavendishcavendish on December 4th, 2004 02:58 pm (UTC)
Hi there :-)

Say, can one use the lj writing tool also for comments? IF so, how? (So I can escape thise olive colourd reply box of yours ;-) )

Anyhow, this sounds like an interesting read. Question is: Do I want a cruel and merciless climax over Christmas? And, what is more, do I want to read anything that you praise before you have read "Nachtflug"? ;-)

Well, I think there is a clear yes to the second question, let me ponder a little over the first ;-)

F.
Cavendishcavendish on December 4th, 2004 03:08 pm (UTC)
oh, and ps.:

how come I find you in a pensive mood today whith the stress of the London Saitary reform gone and Christmas ahaed?

Nothing to serious to worry about I hope, beside the size of your Father'S X-mas present (I would recomend XL ;-) ). But if in doubt, well, use the advice given on that obscure bra webpage and check the lable ;-))

And second ps.: we did not finish this line of thoght yesterday: How would you like a few days out in the snow over carneval?

F.

Bimobimo on December 4th, 2004 07:49 pm (UTC)
Say, can one use the lj writing tool also for comments? IF so, how? (So I can escape thise olive colourd reply box of yours ;-) )

I'm afraid the tool doesn't work for comments. (I wish it would, because that would save me from all those unnerving HTML-tags *g*). However, I think I remember a special LJ option for changing the reply box' colour. Maybe there is something I can do about the nasty olive-grey ...


how come I find you in a pensive mood today whith the stress of the London Saitary reform gone and Christmas ahaed? Nothing to serious to worry about I hope, beside the size of your Father'S X-mas present (I would recomend XL ;-)

No need to worry. Actually, the pretty banal reason behind the "pensive" is that I was thinking about how to organize the review ;-)

And second ps.: we did not finish this line of thoght yesterday: How would you like a few days out in the snow over carneval?

Carnival sounds great. A good opportunity to flee from the Rhineland festivities ;-)
Cavendishcavendish on December 4th, 2004 10:20 pm (UTC)
Help. now I have to commet on three different commets ... is this waht computer addiction feels like ;-) ?

>Carnival sounds great. A good opportunity to flee from the Rhineland festivities ;-)

choose your destination then ;-). And maybe there is some groop therapy for NLGs wanting to go on holidays togeter where we could go as a kind of training ;-)))



Selenaselenak on December 4th, 2004 03:11 pm (UTC)
I'm all for cruel, merciless climaxes. (See latest lj entry.) Must read!

Anyway, I enjoyed Remains of the Day very much, and I actually did read it before watching the film version. Thank you for pointing out this one!
Cavendishcavendish on December 4th, 2004 03:23 pm (UTC)
poem #3
>I'm all for cruel, merciless climaxes

well, the same goes for me, normally. But over X-mas I ted to get all sentimental ;-))
(Bimo: Do not say anything wrong here ;-)) )

Best last line of a novel I have ever read:

"Ich wusste nichts, und so verharrte ich im Unerschütterlichen Glauben, die Zeit der grausamen Wunder sei noch nicht um"

Lem, Solaris.

F.


F.
Bimobimo on December 4th, 2004 08:08 pm (UTC)
What about the following idea:

If that's okay for the two of you, I could send A Pale View of Hills to Selena the next time I get to the post office and when she has finished reading it, she can send it directly to Cavendish.

In the meantime, I could start the Saint Exupery novel that I promised Cavendish to read ;-)
Cavendishcavendish on December 4th, 2004 10:17 pm (UTC)
Hi there :-)

Sounds fine with me (provided selena is quicker in returning books than you are in returning video tapes ;-)

BTW.: if we want to meet tomorrow I suggest either 4 in the afternoon or 8.30 in the evening, the latter option being perferable to the first.

If not, maybe sometime on Monday ;-). Just let me know :-)

F.
Bimobimo on December 4th, 2004 08:21 pm (UTC)
I'm all for cruel, merciless climaxes. (See latest lj entry.)

It's quite an amazing bunch of scenes you picked in that entry. Word on the "Hug John!Now!" moment in "Terra Firma".


Must read!

I could send you the Ishiguro novel if you'd like. For further details just see below *g*
Cavendishcavendish on December 4th, 2004 10:12 pm (UTC)
please ... eintlghten me poor uneducated oldfashioned person that I am :-)

a) what is "Terra Firma"

b) What does "Word on" mean, and where does the expression come from?

Selenaselenak on December 5th, 2004 06:44 am (UTC)
Send away!
Karenquiller77 on December 4th, 2004 05:02 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the book review. It sounds like a very interesting read. *sigh* Yet another title to add to my growing list of "books to read". Not that I mind, but how will I ever get through them all unless I abandon writing, and for that matter, work. :-)
Bimobimo on December 4th, 2004 08:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for the book review.

You are welcome :-)

Not that I mind, but how will I ever get through them all unless I abandon writing, and for that matter, work. :-)

I wonder why this sounds so strangely familiar... *g*

Some time ago, my own "books to read " list got so hopelessly long I decided to abandon it altogether. I now live a very happy and carefree life as a "spontaneous book buyer"... *g*
Karenquiller77 on December 4th, 2004 08:46 pm (UTC)
I now live a very happy and carefree life as a "spontaneous book buyer"
A wonderful plan -- one concocted by someone who does not work in a library, methinks. :-) But since my list is in my head it gets shifted around, often at random, with books I've just heard about jumping the queue, so maybe I don't have much of a list after all. Just a yearning to read everything that sounds interesting.
Cavendishcavendish on December 4th, 2004 10:10 pm (UTC)
>Some time ago, my own "books to read " list got so hopelessly long I decided to abandon it altogether.

Ah,k that's why ... ;-)). But I think a books to read list is a really good thing to have ... just needs to be updated once in a while ;-)

>I now live a very happy and carefree life as a "spontaneous book buyer"... *g*

I shudder at the mere thoght ... maybe I should really become mere spontanious ;-)

F.
Kathyh: Kathyh herokathyh on December 4th, 2004 05:07 pm (UTC)
I'm ashamed to say I haven't read any of Kazuo Ishiguro's full length novels but I did read one of his short stories recently and was hugely impressed. Thanks for the review - Ishiguro's going up my authors I must read soon list like a rocket.
Bimobimo on December 4th, 2004 08:28 pm (UTC)
I'm ashamed to say I haven't read any of Kazuo Ishiguro's full length novels but I did read one of his short stories recently and was hugely impressed.

Oh, Ishiguro also writes short stories? Hopefully I'll manage to stumble across one or two of them someday, because I really like his prose and am a huge fan of the genre.

Glad you enjoyed the review :-)
Cavendishcavendish on February 2nd, 2005 03:56 pm (UTC)
:-)
Hey, your new icon is ready :-) Nice :-) (I need to see this series ;-)) )

I hereby officially suggest that you _use_ it ;-)

F.

PS.: thinking about it, I really do like the Shottland idea (if you do not mind me liking it ;-)) )