Review: A Pale View of Hills March 30, 2012Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Literature.
Tags: "book review", a pale view of hills, books, kazuo ishiguro, literature, reading
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by Kazuo Ishiguro
The story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. In a story where past and present confuse, she relives scenes of Japan’s devastation in the wake of World War II.
This is a tale of a woman who is haunted by the suicide of her daughter. She reminisces on a friendship she had with a woman and her daughter in her past. The end of the book will leave you breathless and wanting more.
I found parts of the book a bit confusing at times and I wondered what it had to do with the story. I promise those of you who haven’t read the book, it all makes sense in the end.
This is one of those books that makes you question your memory and how it colors what kind of person you are. It also makes you question how things will look once many years have passed. Will we want to start removing ourselves from the picture to give ourselves a more favorable view of who we are? Will we have a clear picture of what we’ve done or will we obscure the facts to make ourselves look better? Memory is a funny thing. Ishiguro will make you think and wonder about all of these things and more.
This was my first foray into the writings of Ishiguro but it won’t be my last.
Review – Life in the Cul-de-Sac March 13, 2012Posted by thehypermonkey in 4.5 stars, Foreign, Literature.
Tags: "book review", "book reviews", books, japan, japanese fiction, life in the cul-de-sac, literature, reading, senji kuroi
by Senji Kuroi
Life in the Cul-de-Sac is considered “one of the most important Japanese novels of the last two decades” and is the winner of the Tanizaki Prize. It’s a series of interlacing stories about families who live in a cul-de-sac. At first the stories don’t seem to be connected but then the connection becomes more obvious even if it’s a bit tenuous at times. It still makes for a strong story as it proves that this is a modern kind of “Japanese floating world” versus the traditional group-ethic.
The families are insulated in their own worlds yet they touch upon each other in meaningful ways. They’re interleaved together in a mesh of humanity that aches for understanding. The women are the strongest voices in the stories. Ultimately they’re the strongest characters in the book.
In “The Door Across The Street”, Shizuko Takigawa needs to keep things unchanged and to stand up for what she wants. In “Night Guest”, Masayo Yasunaga aches to be free of the traditional role her life’s put her in.
Even though the women resonated within me the loudest the men did have a say. In “Toy Room”, you find Fusao Oda aching for days gone by for example.
Each character went through the aches and pains of every day life. Yet many had a nobility and/or a poignancy I found admirable and touching. They were real people going through very real problems and I could relate to them on a very human level.
You can see why this book won the Tanizaki Prize. I hope to read more books by Senji Kuroi. He’s a masterful storyteller.