25 July 2008

Never Let Me Go

I finished Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go yesterday, and sure enough, the dozens of people who'd told me this was a perfect book for me were pretty much right. I've just gone through a *lot* of nonfiction, none of it particularly literary, and it was great to sink into a novel like this. To sink in and then plow through it, finishing it in about four days.

Although I at times have felt like the only person on earth who hasn't read this book, I'm not going to get into the plot or ending or any other spoilery things in the hope that if you haven't read it you will, and you'll have the same chance to discover it that I did. (Except for when a certain person walked into my office and blurted out a piece of information I was about five pages from discovering.)

It's sort of David Mitchell meets Margaret Atwood's fabulist novels, and just as absorbing as you'd expect when I'm bringing up those writers. There also gentleness to the storytelling (augmented by an almost distractingly lovely font) and an interesting way of building a world that I've never encountered before, in a novel or other medium. And the tone, again helped by the--

Okay, I had to go to Barnes and Noble's website to get you a screen-cap of the font:

It's a little blurry, but I think you can see it. There's something about the tails on the y's, where the weight is on the a's and other little round letters, that is almost painfully lovely.

Anyway, moving on. The tone was so specific, almost lush and spare at the same time. There's a calm meandering to the narrative, not scattered or the elegant tangents of Margaret Drabble. Just storytelling. Okay, here's what it feels like - it's like a silk brocade pillowcase. It's cool, a little reserved, a little elegant, not exactly old-fashioned but not flashy-modern-fast. It's not flat like a plain pillowcase, there's texture that you notice, and mostly it's lovely. (The pillowcase, by the way, is in soft blues and greens. I am insane, yes, I know. But that is how the book feels.) And this incredibly specific sense of tone intersects with our sense of our narrator, and the question of whether the tone is her voice or the tone of the world, whether it's how she sees the world, how she's telling her story, or just the feel of this world is, to me, just the tiny starting point of a whole spread of narrative/craft intricacies that this novel brings up for the book club inside my head.

I could get into much more - the characters, the storytelling, details and endings and my various and few bones to pick - but it's an especially great book to discover from scratch, so I'll leave it at that and urge you, if you haven't already, to read this book, and don't let Isaac ruin anything for you. Then email me and we can book-club it. I promise not to mention the insane pillow thing again.

1 comment:

Faustus, M.D. said...

I am now the only person on earth who hasn't read this book.