Friday, August 31, 2012

This is a review of NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I've been debating whether or not I should do this review. There are some awesome ones already. What can I add? Probably nothing.

I read NEVER LET ME GO as a consequence of belonging to a book club that meets monthly at a local Barnes & Noble store. My wife --- we've been married forty-one years --- recommended it to the group. My wife's been recently reading extensively --- not that she hasn't always --- but more so now because she has chronic cancer. The malignancy, and her treatments for it, keep her down. She can't do the physical activities she used to, so she spends time in less intensive physical activities, like reading. So whereas she used to get a daily physical workout, now her mind gets an extra rigorous one.

My wife found this list: the 1001 novels you should read before you die. This book was the first one on it. She hadn't read it, so she did some research, found data indicating it had been awarded various prizes, given much merit, and had favorable reviews from people on Goodreads, Amazon, and the like. So she recommended that the group read it. Among other suggestions by others, her recommendation won out.

I'm very glad we read it. It is well written, thought-provoking, and, to me, haunting. It is a treatise on morality and ethics blended into a tender, moving, and heartrending story. It was subtly done, not at all jarring or didactic. It seemed kind of like adding exactly the right amount of garlic to a roasting chicken, one that once cooked tastes scrumptious so you want your fill, but you're prevented from doing so.

The novel presents the story of that one wish --- never, as a human being, to be let go of --- which is quite universal. I think everyone wishes to have someone in life who will stick with them to the end, who will always hang on and hang out with them. I remember easily it's main characters: TOMMY D., RUTH, and KATHY H.

KATHY H. is the novel's narrator and protagonist. She reminisces about her youth, growing up in an institution, Hailsham --- a sham of an institution. For Hailsham imposes, we learn as we read through the novel, through subtle manipulation, the ultimate hell upon its occupants. That they, as human clones, are considered inferior to those who are not cloned. They must accept the responsibility to sacrifice themselves, their very lives, as, perhaps, for a while, "carers", and, ultimately, as "donors" by giving up needed vital organs --- their hearts, their lungs, their livers, etc. --- to humans who are not cloned. So Kathy H. as a young girl and adolescent interacts at Hailsham with her friends, Ruth and Tommy D., who then ultimately remain with her beyond Hailsham. In essence, it is Kathy H. who never lets Tommy D. and Ruth go.

Ishiguro nicely sketches out these three characters with unique features and intertwines them. While some in the group found the premise unrealistic, in my situation I found it compelling, thought-provoking, moving.


Fun, but it could've been funner; funny, but it shouldn't have been so funny.

I graduated from high school in 1966. So I was pretty young when the original Star Trek television series played out. Sometimes I feel I'm just as young and naïve now.

This science fiction novel depended upon knowledge of the series, the fact that crewmembers unimportant to the continuing television saga got killed off in dramatic ways in the Enterprise's weekly exploitations. Scalzi plays on that "flaw" and builds his story from there.

So the main dynamic is set in the future with a spaceship named Intrepid and its "secondary" characters. The main characters of the novel, those secondary characters, figure out that essentially the same dynamic is happening to them.

Satire raises its head for savvy readers. Characterization is wanting. The dialogue seemed unnecessarily strained. The narrative focuses on the underlying mechanics and physicality of the scenario. The codas that follow the basic narrative play stronger, addressing such issues as life, choice, duty.

Where's my mother — in heaven?

Asia and I took a walk.

That's nothing new. It's mostly Asia's fault we go. She begs me; I resist, but I'm weak. I always have been susceptible to more gentle persuasion, muzzle nudging and kissing my hand with her wet nose.

We go out these days in the summertime two times, in the morning, not too early, and in the evening, when things have cooled off. Sometimes I try to keep us in the shade when it's particularly hot. There've been times when Asia finds the shade and makes us stop. Sometimes, she leaves me in the sun. She doesn't, however, usually lie down, but I wouldn't put it past her.

It's harder for me to go in the evening. It's tough to get up and move, not necessarily because I've wasted all my energy doing this or that physical feat during the day, but I guess I've mostly used what energy an old person in my poor shape and challenged health has.

We have our routes, the dog and I. However, they can always vary — usually they do in some respect. Tonight out the door and down the steps, we headed left, east, toward the mountains. We only passed two houses before the street turned and headed south. Usually, we continue in that mode, going south, until the street turns again and goes west. This evening, however, we turned on a street that intersects the street we were on and went west prematurely from our usual route.

Anyway, it's Friday night. Some Friday nights the streets are busy. Other Friday nights they are not. Tonight, earlier, there had been harsh winds and some showers. It was cooler, which you would think would bring out the masses, but it didn't. There weren't a lot of people out and about. Even the kids — especially the one little girl who's about three or four and always runs toward us shouting "Can I pet that dog? Can I pet that dog?" — weren't out tonight.

Sometimes I find myself wondering what people are doing. Fridays seem like a good day to go out to eat, to go to the mall, to go to a concert or the movie. Maybe that accounted for fewer people being out tonight.

Anyway, I want to attempt to make more frequent entries on my blog here. I'm writing the last few pages of my latest book, which was inspired by the Wikipedia controversies, the notion of privacy, and notions of surveillance and torture. It will need some revision, perhaps considerable, and whatnot, but I've been thinking about what I want to write about next. Women. Well, more than that, women's rights.

Now it might seem ill advised for a man — using the terminology liberally — to want to write about women's rights. The argument could be, shouldn't women write about that subject and take care of it, not men. I'm all for that, but I got to thinking. As a faithful man, I got to thinking about Heavenly Father and wondering why had I haven't ever seriously asked where is my Heavenly Mother? Seriously, why haven't I seriously considered that question?

So that's it.