Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Unconsoled. New York: Knopf, 1995. Summary
: The famed pianist Mr. Ryder arrives at an unnamed European town that is eager to use the transcendent power of music to free people from the many distresses that have recently materialized in their collective lives. Though called upon to give a speech and a performance, Ryder, after much interaction with the colorful locals, ends up doing neither. The town's hopes for revival turn out to be for nought. Comments
: Although this magnificent novel--the author's most ambitious to date--is well over five-hundred pages long, its impressive cast of characters all individually fleshed-out and described, the novel's punchline is surprisingly simple: My comprehension of reality is not the same as yours, and it causes profound misunderstandings. This is a recurring theme of Ishiguro's oeuvre, but whereas in An Artist of the Floating World
or The Remains of the Day
, there is at least a measure of reconciliation at the end, in The Unconsoled
--as, yes, the title would suggest--there is none whatsoever. The entire book is one failure after another after another to do as E. M. Forster exhorted, "Only connect!" Sometimes it's infuriating, sometimes it's terrifying, and sometimes it's almost unbearably heartbreaking. Indeed, even the act of reading this novel is a demonstration of its thesis; different points of view do not wholly agree and characters selectively revise their understandings of past events, creating an uncomfortable sensation of unmitigated dislocation for the reader. Ishiguro evinces spectacular, if icy, control of his art here. Notes
: hardcover, 1st American edition (ex-library) Rating
- It's hard to do replicate brilliance again and again after such critical success, but Ishiguro manages it admirably. Yet I found this work to be a bit too clinical for my tastes to love unconditionally.