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The Unresolved...is Ishiguro trying to screw with our minds?
on 21 May 2009
Having read 'Never Let Me Go' and then 'Remains of the Day', by now I can truly say I am a fan of Ishiguro's writing style. It manages to be both accessible, without patronising the audience. Yet, he still manages to explore some complex matters of the heart and life in general, capturing with such realism and empathy the voice of his protagonists. This is thus the saving grace of 'The Unconsoled'. World renowned pianist Ryder is due to give the performance of his life in an unnamed Central European city, but he can't seem to get a grip as his surroundings get more and more surreal. I was a little taken aback when I read some of the more venomous reviews of this novel. However having now finished the book I can see their point. It's not so much the ephemeral structure of the story that grates. Once you get used to it, it's not a problem. If anything it resembles any number of dreams you might have had. I think the problem is there are too many unnecessary detours and longwinded, futile monologues that it feels like Ishiguro tries our patience making the book as long as he did. He would have got away with it a lot more if it was a couple of hundred pages shorter. By now I am used to Ishiguro's trademark ambiguous endings. Things tend to taper off without much in the way of a major resolution. I normally find this strangely satisfying, if not a bit sad. At the end of the day it's realistic, life goes on. However after being lead on a merry dance through so much of 'The Unconsoled' you feel like you should have been rewarded with a more concrete ending. Some of the characters undergo evolution I suppose but most of it does seem rather pointless. Again the aimlessness of the book only really started to get to me when I was about two thirds of the way through. Much like 'Remains of the Day' the central character of The Unconsoled, Mr Ryder, wasn't an appealing one to me. He's rather self-involved and his pomposity as subtle as it is reveals itself a lot more towards the end of the book. Too often he's quiet when he should speak up and when he does his annoyance is expressed too late or misguided.
I'll still give this 3 stars because Ishiguro is a master story teller and his ability to draw you back in even when you lose faith in the book is quite special. His narrative has such a deceptive ease about it. I'm still yet to read anything of his that is as good as 'Never Let Me Go' but I'm not deterred. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into his latest 'Nocturnes'.