Saturday, August 09, 2008

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro, had me really excited for the first 20 pages or so. It reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale (probably my favorite book), in that it takes place in some other time. I gleefully prepared to watch it all unravel as I read, but, unfortunately, very little unravelled and it utterly failed to keep my interest.

I won't go into the story line, just in case a reader has it on their list (although, if I were you, I'd scratch it off). I know this book was highly reviewed, which is the reason I picked it up when I saw it in the bargain bin. But, it's the kind of book that makes me want to call up all the reviewers and say, "Really, Michael Ondaatje? You seriously think Ishiguro is 'One of the finest prose stylists of our time'? Really?"

Aside from going nowhere, poorly, two things bugged me more than anything.

#1. The word "carer" (as in, "one who cares"). The beauty of writing a dystopian novel is you can make up any GD word you want to. The repetition of "Carer" was almost as bad as Anne Rice and her bullshit (and inappropriately used) "anthropomorphic" again and again.

#2. The font. I never thought this would matter, but the font really made me nuts. It was so distracting. You know when you get to the end of a book, and there's a paragraph "On the Font"? And you're like, who gives two craps about the font? For this book I actually skipped to that paragraph about 4 pages in to see if it said, "This font was specially created to stop the eye for approximately 20 seconds each time the letters "g" and "y" appear in succession. It'll happen more than you can imagine!"

Post Script: I just found a review by Margaret Atwood herself on Slate. She gives away the farm, so be aware. She writes, "It's a thoughtful, crafty, and finally very disquieting look at the effects of dehumanization on any group that's subject to it." Really, Margaret Atwood? Really?

And some snarky editor over at the Guardian wrote a hilarious parody of Never Let Me Go:
...I realise now how lucky Tommy, Ruth and I were to be brought up in such surroundings. We even had a sports pavilion where we would go to chatter amongst ourselves. You may wonder why I mention these details, but such empty observations are the hallmark of the consummate prose stylist....It may strike you that I like to hint at truths. This is because I fear you might stop reading were you to guess that the story really was as predictable as it first seemed.


KHM said...

Oh really, Kelly? You think it sucks? Really?

I can just see you doing it, too. That's the best part of this post! I'll make sure to miss it. I've never been a fan of Japanese literature---much to my HS AP English teacher's dismay...

pigeon said...

Being a deeply wishy-washy person who is easily amused by most anything, I admit to both loving the book "Never Let Me Go" and to laughing out loud at the excellent parody in the Guardian. :-))