Who2 now has a profile of the Japanese-Engish novelist Kazuo Ishiguro.
He’s the guy who wrote The Remains of the Day, one of the most heart-breaking books I’ve ever read. It’s good. I’ve never seen the movie all the way through, however, because I’m not one for those kinds of movies, the ones about stuffy English manners and unrequited love.
I can thoroughly enjoy books like that, but when it comes to movies, I have an automatic Homer Simpson reaction: BOR-RING!!
I’m currently reading Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go.
“The best novel of the decade” is what TIME magazine called it — in 2005. I’m not sure if that means the decade from 1995 to 2005, or the decade of 2000 to 2010. Either way, that’s a statement so bold as to approach kiss-of-death status.
I can’t hold that against Kazuo Ishiguro, though. It’s not his fault some person at TIME went overboard.
In fact, almost all of the books I’m reading now are sporting outrageous claims of greatness. The non-fiction book Agent ZigZag, for example, is called by The Boston Globe “the best book ever written.” Ha! Now come on. It’s a good book, that’s true. But the best book ever written? Better than The Bible? Better than Moby Dick? Better than The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
I’m also reading Patti Smith’s book, Just Kids, about her youthful days in New York City with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. Smith’s book won the National Book Award last year. It’s a good enough memoir, but the writing isn’t anything special, and it’s merely a series of anecdotes that capture New York City in the late 1960s. As if we’ve never encountered that before!
Anyway, back to Kazuo Ishiguro. Like his fellow Englishman Ian McEwan, Ishiguro is terrific at capturing the nuances in a relationship and the complexities of self-reflection. Both writers attended a creative writing workshop at the University of Anglia, although McEwan was there a few years before Ishiguro.
Ishiguro, at that time, was trying to make it as a guitar player, after having travelled the western United States and having worked as a grouse beater for the Queen Mother at her castle in Scotland.
The job of a grouse beater is to walk through the heath rustling the shrubbery to drive out the grouse, who then end up in a field where the upper crust of society can fire at them with shotguns.
It’s a good thing Ishiguro didn’t make a career out of it. The world needs great novelists more than it needs royal grouse beaters.