Ishiguro: A Pale View of Hills
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For our last 2009 mini-author I will be reading Ishiguro's A Pale View of Hills. It is his first novel (written in 1982) so it seems apropos to read it first.
Just finished this book. This is the second of Ishiguro's novels I've read and once again I feel a little shorthanded. I'll have to elaborate in the morning when I wrap my head around this a bit more.
With Ishiguro, I really do enjoy his writing style. Can I describe it? No. That would require my own writing style which I don't have. But it is interesting and he certainly has you turning the page to read what's next.
The mix of realities was certainly interesting but, even though I don't require closure with my books, I just felt that this one could have closed a few ends at least. Mystery and intrigue is good but if I wanted to have only that I would look at my own love life. Although I could hardly call it intrigue, I would be curious to see how Ishiguro interpreted it in writing. Would I look over the hills myself pondering who that person on the other side of the river is? Or perhaps I would be that woman in the shadows. Or perhaps I'm the noodle shop lady in all her side character glory. In any case, I guess this shows that I wasn't all that interested in the story.
Sorry Ishiguro. Like I said, I really do like your style.
For those curious, however, this book is about a woman named Etsuko who has just lost her daughter to suicide. This incident, along with the visit of her daughter's half sister makes her look back to her past when she was still living in Nagasaki, Japan. There, while pregnant with her first child, she encounters Sachiko, a woman with a seemingly strange relationship with her own daughter and men. Realities twist, memories fade in and out, and we're left with Etsuko, still questioning her daughter's fate as well as Sachiko's.
Since Ishiguro is Japanese born but identifies himself as being British, I thought I'd look for Japanese undertones in the novel. This is apparently only of two of his books that involves Japan.
A few quotes marked me:
pg 65 -
"A wife these days feels no sense of loyalty towards the household. She just does what she pleases, votes for a different party if the whim takes her. That's so typical of the way things have gone in Japan. All in the name of democracy people abandon obligations."
pg. 127 -
"Furthermore, at that time of night, Jiro (the main character's first husband) was invariably tired and any attempts to converse would only make him impatient. And in any case, it was never in the nature of our relationship to discuss such things openly."
pg 147 -
On this page there is a discussion between a teacher and his former teacher about a comment made in an article about how the former teacher's methods were no longer valid.
These quotes definitely indicate the common Japanese themes of generational gaps and gender roles. A woman becoming independent in her thoughts is seen as dangerous to the Japanese way as she should agree with her husband and not bring up anything "pointless".
There was a time in the book -- I forgot to make note of it -- where Ishiguro makes a comparison between America and Japan, something I felt he wasn't in position to discuss as a self proclaimed Brit. But perhaps that's just me.
In any case I'd be interested in hearing from anybody who read this.
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