The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

World War II not only changed the scenery of the country but its people and atmosphere as well. Some clung to the only things that they knew while others tried to embrace or make change, our protagonist was the former.

I can’t even say I made my own mistakes. Really – one has to ask oneself – what dignity is there in that?”

4/5 stars.
ebook, 352 pages.
Read from December 6, 2016 to December 9, 2016.

Following some disappointment after reading Never Let Me Go, I was assured that this book was the better read by a few other readers. Well, they happened to be very right on this one.

Kazuo Ishiguo was born in Japan in 1954 but moved to England when he was only five years old. This book is set during and after World War II and while I was not alive during this era, Kuzuo seems to have captured this setting very well. World War II not only changed the scenery of the country but its people and atmosphere as well. Some clung to the only things that they knew while others tried to embrace or make change, our protagonist was the former.

Stevens is the butler of Darlington Hall, just like his father before him. All he has ever known is the hall in which he serves and what it means to be a good butler. However, times have changed and the hall is not as gallant and exceptional as it once was. Great halls and families are changing and becoming less and less prominent in post-war England. Stevens is formal, loyal and dedicated but to a fault. After receiving a letter from an old co-worker and friend he is encouraged by his employer to take some time off, something that Stevens has never done before. After much consideration, Stevens prepares his staff and takes a journey through the English countryside to meet his old friend. Through this journey Stevens offers insights to his past and what it means to him to be an exceptional butler while also revealing his true feelings and discomfort without shattering the image, dignity and appearance of a proper butler. As his story unfolds, you come to see what sort of sacrifice his duties required of him in his pursuit and dedication of his profession.

When I first started reading this novel I feared the worst. I mean I didn’t really care about the butler profession and feared that a good portion of the book would be dedicated to Stevens’ triads about it. However I quickly realized that Ishiguro did not waste a single word in this novel. Every bit of banter that Stevens utters is in relation to how he became unable to express his feelings or make a decision honestly without considering the dignity of his profession or employer. This book is a tragedy. Stevens is unable to express emotions and has missed out in opportune moments in his life, such as losing the opportunity for love and to grieve for his father. The journey that he takes is a slow realization of this loss but also a recognition that he is unlikely to change and perhaps would not have done things differently in the end.

At the end of the novel, I dropped the book in my lap and stared at the wall for a bit taking in the loss true-self that Stevens missed in dedication to his profession. I was also in awe at how the author wrote such a concise and pristine story. Ishiguro was true to the narrative and managed to show such remarkable depth about a person by not actually saying what they really felt, as Stevens lies to himself in his own inner dialogue. It isn’t until the end of the novel that the full potency of the story really hits you.

Anyone that appreciates literature, psychology, and the pains of appearance and dedication would appreciate this phenomenal story.

The Sound of Waves by Yukio Mishima

The best part about this book? Is that I could guess how it was going to end and I still loved it.

He heard the sound of waves striking the shore, and it was as though the surging of his young blood was keeping time with the movement of the sea’s great tides. It was doubtless because nature itself satisfied his need that Shinji felt no particular lack of music in his everyday life.”

4/5 stars.
Paperback, 183 pages.
Read from December 5 to 6, 2016.

I can’t remember how I came across this novel. Maybe Goodreads? Or perhaps on a list of great Japanese literature? However I came across it, I am glad I did.

Yukio Mishima, whose real name was Kimitake Hiraoka, is a Japanese author, poet, playwright, actor, and film director and is considered one of the most important Japanese authors of the 20th century. He committed ritual suicide at the age of forty-five in 1970. Though it is speculated that the ritual part of it was just a cover and that he had been planning his suicide for some time.

The Sound of Waves is a fiction/romance of two star-crossed lovers. Shinji is a young fisherman growing up in a small rural village in Japan. His life is uncomplicated, satisfying and fulfilling. That is until the day he meets Hatsue. Hatsue is the daughter of the wealthiest man in the village and Shinji is certain that a girl like him will never take notice of someone like him. She is beautiful and men in the village are all entranced with her. However, everyone is certain that she will marry the arrogant and prominent young man, Yasuo. As fate would have it, Hatsue had taken noticed Shinji and the two of them eventually meet and confess their attractions. Their meetings however have not gone unnoticed by another girl, Chiyoko, who is interested in Shinji. Out of jealousy, Chiyoko starts a nasty rumour about Shinji and Hatsue, resulting in the two lovers being banned from seeing each other. In the end, Shinji must risk his life to prove his love to Hatsue and to win over her family.

The best part about this book? Is that I could guess how it was going to end and I still loved it. So many stories published today have complicated plots and dynamic characters, all of which are awesome, but you get so caught up in convoluted plots that sometimes you forget the potency of a well written, simple, and yet beautiful story. This book is a boy-meets-girl and star-crossed lovers scenario with a happy and predictable ending, and I really liked that. A happy predictable ending. Sometimes you just want that in a book.

And hey, I am not a romantic by any stretch and I still loved this story. The prose is magnificent and picturesque. The characters are simple, noble and riveting and it is easy to lose yourself in their world. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who just wants to get lost in a beautiful story.

Oh Snap! Thank you.

Thank you. Thank you for following and reading my work over the past few years. It may not be much in the scope of other blogs but it means a lot to me.

thank_you

Thank you. Thank you for following and reading my work over the past few years. I am proud to say that I now I have over 100 followers on WordPress. It may not be much in the scope of other blogs but it means a lot to me.

Ever since I learned how to write it as become an innate part of me and something I have always done, regardless of whether or not I was any good at it, so having people follow my work is pretty damn amazing.

Starting this blog has been an amazing outlet for me to write and discuss things that I am passionate about. It also lead to my to being to pursuit of my dream of becoming a writer and stepping out into the right direction.

My goals going forward are to create some more innovative pieces outside of the scope of book reviews and to continue to be published elsewhere.