Monday, 27 June 2011

The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)

I read this on a recommendation from a teacher who is a big fan of Kazuo Ishiguro's work.  It is very verbose but the language is not antiquated and is not hard to read. It is a well-known post-war British novel, and won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989. Although it is set in Britain, with the main character being a bona fide butler, the author is Japanese but his nationality is not evident in his writing. To quote Ishiguro himself "If I wrote under a pseudonym and got somebody else to pose for my jacket photographs, I'm sure nobody would think of saying, 'This guy reminds me of that Japanese writer.' "

I did like it, and though the main character is certainly unlike any I have encountered before, I can't say I would recommend someone else to read it.

I just watched the trailer for the 1993 movie adaptation and I am definitely going to hire out a copy.

This is the story of a British butler called Stevens who is told by his new master to explore the countryside and whilst travelling remurates on his life. Before the war Stevens held a prestigious position in a society household with a large staff. His master was Lord Darlington, who was an important political figure. When Lord Darlington dies, an American gentleman buys Darlington Hall and Stevens comes as a package deal. The new master Mr Farraday, finds the idea of a butler a great novelty. But during attempts at banter, when Stevens remains his usual aloof self, Farraday is disheartened. He tells Stevens to go on a trip to see the countryside. Stevens in truth practises hard to find witticisms to fulfil his new master's expectations. He is finding his position hard as he feels he gave everything he had to Lord Darlington who Stevens believed was a great man, and is saddened to realise Darlington's aspirations although good-hearted were fruitless. His aloofness stops him form making emotional connections and especially impedes on his possible relationship with the once-housekeeper Miss Kenton. On his countryside tour his goal is to meet up with Miss Kenton (who is now married and becoming a grandmother)  and enquire as to whether she would like her previous position back.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Cloudstreet - Tim Winton (1991)

For starters this is actually a book I had to read for school. Though I'm thinking I would have picked it up anyway seeing as it made the Dymock's Top 101 last year and seems to be a real up-and-coming novel. At first, the cover drew me in and I was pretty pumped to read it. Then I read the blurb and my hopes fell a little. Getting into reading it, you are confronted with a large amount of Australian slang and a lot of complex imagery. A thing that can be quite frustrating is that Winton seems to hate the old quotation marks. I think what he's trying to do is create a stream of consciousness to give the book a high degree of fluidity. But I think this can be quite hard to recognise by the reader initially. It is doubtlessly a beautifully written book.

I would certainly recommend this, and especially would recommend for it to be read twice to get the full scope of what Winton is trying to accomplish with this novel.

Also, if you're interested a three-part TV adaptation has been made.
It is the story of two vastly different families that come to live together under one roof - that being the house on Cloudstreet. The Lambs are a hard-working, Christian family that tragedy has struck. The charismatic, lovable son, Fish, nearly drowns and as a result becomes disabled. The Pickles are a family that has a strong belief in luck or the 'shifty shadow of God.' The father Sam is a gambler, and the mother Dolly an alcoholic. The characters feel a sense of resentment coming from the house throughout the novel. But when the family unite, this resentment eases.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


This blog will consist of a summary/monologue/review of every book I read from here on in. I'm going to be brutally honest about my opinons, but I fully concede that everyone is different and therefore likes different books.