Monday, November 23, 2009

An Artist of the Floating World -Kazuo Ishiguro

I made a deal with myself during the summer, that every time I get a paycheck (once per month) I am allowed to buy one book as long as I read that book before I buy the next. This is how Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World landed on my bookshelf. I read Never Let me Go either late last year or early this year and have since read all of his books that I can get my hands on. I think that either The Remains of the Day or When we were Orphans is my favorite of his so far.

Aren't both of these covers beautiful? My copy is the same as the one on the right, but I like both quite a bit.

An Artist is a quick read, just a hair over 200 pages. While I was reading it I wanted to describe it as "superficially a japanese Remains of the Day" but then I realized that, in reality, superficially they don't actually resemble each other. Both take place during the post-war years, and involve men looking back over their lives and questioning the decisions that they made during the war years (I'm taking this to be the non-superficial resemblance). However the Remains takes place in Britain and the main character is an aging butler while An Artist takes place in Japan and the main character is a retired artist who's come to regret his patriotic stances during the war.

This is a really beautiful book and I don't want to describe too much of Ono's thoughts and remembrances of his career because I really can't do it justice. I definitely recommend this one.

I think it is odd that most of Ishiguro's books seem to take on the point of view of a character looking back over his or her life. Mr.Stevens, the butler from the Remains of the Day, Kathy is looking over her short life with Tommy and Ruth in Never Let Me Go, and I have a theory that The Unconsoled is also a narration of someone with dementia remembering their life. What I find odd though, is that Ishiguro is so young to be so familiar with this point of view. He is only 55 and would have been about 30 when he wrote An Artist. At any rate, I think he is one of my favorite authors.

I'm not sure what I will be reading next. I might just reach for the next book on my stack which appears to be All Souls by Javier Marias.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. I recently read "The Remains of the Day" and quite liked it. I was unsure as to which Ishiguro book I should turn to next (I've been leaning towards "Nocturnes", for its music theme), but I kind of like the idea of coupling this with "The Remains of the Day". Based on your great review, it sounds like the two will fit together nicely.