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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Revisiting An Hypothesis

Few films of the past 20 years have stayed with me like "Remains of The Day" (1993). And though the acting and directing were exceptional, Kazuo Ishiguro's story, from his novel of the same name, is what most lingered.

After completing Ishiguro's 2000 novel "When We Were Orphans", I now feel compelled to return to his earlier book. "...Orphans" spoke to me on a few levels; the screenplay of "Remains..." had a similar effect on me. The two stories share superficial elements (time frame, main character is a solitary English man) while also exploring common larger themes (moral ambivalence, the ephemeral nature of memory, the difficulty of meaningfully connecting). "...Orphans" is largely metaphor-free but the writing still shimmers. It's difficult for me to picture anyone getting through the last chapter unmoved.

Over the past five years, I've felt oddly distanced from several novels by Asian authors, including one prizewinner. To this point, my working hypothesis was that these books, well written with one notable exception, didn't have enough noise to engage me. Yet "When We Were Orphans" is an exceedingly quiet book and I was fully engaged. Now that "Remains Of The Day" is in my queue, guess it's time to re-visit that hypothesis.          

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