Monday, November 14, 2016

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro (2015)

In The Buried Giant, the land of England, sometime after the Romans left but before the Saxons completely took over, is under a curse - a mist that causes everyone to have short term memory.  

That's how I feel about the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro.  I'm under a misty curse that causes me to completely forget them once I'm finished.

I've read The Remains of the Day.  Twice.  I know it's about a butler in a manor house owned by Christopher Reeve, and Emma Thompson is the housekeeper.  I know this because I've seen the movie several times.  But I barely remember the book.  In fact, the second time I read the book, I had completely forgotten I'd read it once before until well into it.

I read Never Let Me Go.  Or maybe it's Never Let Them Go.  I know it's about clones, who are being harvested for their body parts.  In sort of a Harry Potter type boarding school, without the magic.  I don't really remember much beyond that.

And now we have The Buried Giant.  This was the book I chose for my book discussion club to read.  And I have no fucking idea what to even say about it, because the minute I put it down, I forgot most of it.  I jest, a bit.  I remember some of it.  But it was just not all that interesting.  

Ishiguro has this flat monotone of a narrative voice - and a first person storyteller that creeps in everyone so often with a comment, although why this is so is never made clear (Sir Gawain also has two chapters he narrates from first person, again, for no discernible reason other than Literature, said poshly).  His settings are flat; his characters are all related to Flat Stanley, although Flat Stanley is actually interesting.

Most of the time, I had no idea what the hell was even going on or what the whole point of this was.  

I read a review - that hated this book by the way - that said this was an allegory.  Pah.  If it was, I didn't get it.

If the book had been a rousing read, full of adventure and witty dialogue, I don't think would have cared about the Deeper Meaning.  Who gives a shit about Deep when you are having fun?  But alas, it was full of the opposite of adventure - doldrum reading - and the opposite of witty - plodding dialogue, put in the mouth of truly dull characters.

Let's hope the movie does this justice.

I may be done with Kazuo Ishiguro.  

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
In The Buried Giant, a mist of forgetfulness has cursed Dark Ages England, causing everyone to suffer from short term memory loss. That's how I feel about Kazuo Ishiguro books. The minute I finish them, the mist of forgetfulness attacks me, and I can barely remember what a read.

What I do remember about The Buried Giant is that I felt that the first person narrator, who makes an appearance a few times, had the same narrative voice as Stevens the butler from The Remains of the Day, as if he had gone back in time (or perhaps he has lived forever). That is the only little nugget of interest I took from this book, because other than that, I was bored silly and couldn't wait to finish the damn thing. The characters are all flatter than Flat Stanley; the plot plods; the setting is dull. Ishiguro tells story in monotone and monochrome; somewhere behind the grays is Deep Meaning, I'm sure. But I didn't care enough to dig for it.


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