On Ishiguro

On Ishiguro

I'd just graduated college when I read The Remains Of The Day. At the time I thought it was the best novel I'd ever read, and while that ranking may have changed, it's still in the top five. 

I had not read another of Kazuo Ishiguro's novels since. It felt to me that nothing he wrote after could possibly put me into the same fugue state. But last night in one sitting I consumed The Buried Giant

There were many differences, with the fantastic setting and the historical period being the most obvious. But the stylized language brought back memories of the earlier work: the fastidious speech of the main actors, the slow revelations that require attention to every word, the ominous aura that builds from sentence to sentence. 

And the "algorithm" of the storyline was identical (in a good way). Love, regret, fading memory. The roles we play and how we become these roles. Ishiguro has lost nothing of his old powers, and has gained a few new ones.

Great fiction captures the deep melancholy of life: what we do to get from one day to the next. For this is the real miracle of human existence -- to be self aware, to know that this will all pass, to know that we will be stymied by the ultimate mystery, and yet to put one foot after another. At his best, Ishiguro immerses you in this understanding (which you must needs set aside in your daily life).

A overdose of Ishiguro might lead to chronic weltschmerz, but reading him at the same periodicity as his novels -- once every five years or so -- is just about right in reminding you of what the world really is. He is truly one of the great writers of our, or any, time.

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