September 10, 2005
Never Let Me Go
I think reading Stuart Little got me back on the reading track. Yee haw.
Last week I read Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro. I picked it up because I am a sucker for a book whose jacket says something about dark secrets and repressed childhood memories. And because the cover is pretty. (What? It is!)
Some of you might remember Mr. Ishiguro from such works as The Remains of the Day or When We Were Orphans. I had never read his books before, but he is highly acclaimed, so I was looking forward to it.
The book starts off and immediately it is complicated and you (I) have no idea what is going on. The narrator, Kathy H., talks about "Hailsham," and about being a "carer" and being a "donor," like we're supposed to know exactly what she's talking about. I hate that kind of book (or movie). It's too frustrating for my little pea brain. Sperm donor? A donor to a fundraiser? You really never find out what she's talking about until about 90 pages in. (One of my wild guesses did prove to be correct, in the end, so maybe it would be clearer to smarter readers than it was to me.) But apparently I was interested enough in the story to continue on, since I did.
More on the style: Ishiguro employs another writing technique that is not a fave - he/Kathy basically tells you when you have to keep reading, to figure out what is going on: "But it all became clear when we heard what happened in the classroom the next day!" or "This incident may not seem important now, but when you hear about the bus ride a few weeks later, you'll understand!" (Those are not actual quotes, by the way. I don't think there were any exclamation points in the book. I'm just saying.)
Anyway, I don't know if this is a typical writing style for Mr. Ishiguro, or if it was supposed to be illuminating Kathy H.'s sophomoric style and understanding, but it annoyed me. Probably because I don't like being told what to do. However, he obviously employed it effectively, since I kept reading.
All that being said, in the end, I did truly like the book. Once I finished, the overall picture stuck with me, and the story line was interesting. The Big Picture was satisfying, even if I had my little personal gripes while reading. If I give any specifics, it will ruin it for you, but there's a little sci-fi, a little coming-of-age, and mostly relationship issues among a very messed-up, isolated community of young people. All the things I like best!