Color me surprised as Hell. I need to get my hands on the rest of this guy's novels. NOW.Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Remains of the Day. 1989. New York: Vintage, 1993.Summary
: Aging English butler William Stevens goes on a road trip, ostensibly to see a bit of the countryside and to meet with Miss Kenton and convince her to return to employment in Darlington Manor. On the way, he reflects on his duty to his former employer, a Nazi sympathizer of sorts, and how his desire for greatness in his profession meant ultimately alienating the woman who secretly loved him.Comments
: Oh. WOW. Comparisons to Haruki Murakami made me a bit wary of Ishiguro, but unless you count Japanese descent, I just don't see the likeness. Ishiguro writes more like Michael Cunningham or the great early 20th century English novelists a la E. M. Forster. Unadorned yet exquisitely subtle, beautiful prose. Suffice to say that the this book will hit you like a sledgehammer, and by the end you won't even be quite sure just how the author did it. After all, the punchline is quite simple: Stevens, in his quest to become the consummate professional by assisting a gentleman who can change the world, ends up missing out on love and important human relationships--and he can't even console himself with the knowledge that the man he served was proven to be in the right! In the end, it's pointless to regret, so he might as well make the most of the modest, twilight years (aka "the remains of the day") that he has left. By the second page I was wholly sucked in, and Stevens, with his tragic yet passionate sense of propriety, is one of the most unequivocally lovable protagonists I've encountered in recent memory. (This guy needs a hug!) His admittedly claustrophobic world and its nuances comes instantly alive; you'll find yourself believing that the author must have a history of service himself...though the strong hierarchical lifestyle is one that any Japanese person would understand. A small yet perfectly-cut and polished gem of a novel.Notes
: trade paperbackRating
- Recall that a 9
stands for "One of the best books you'll read this year."
Well, guess what? If you read it, it will be.