Friday, February 15th, 2008
In the interview yesterday (which features good humor and some real insight) Robyn recommends Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go as "a gently devastating book." I had not heard of the book before but now I'm thinking it looks really interesting. -- Here is an interview with Ishiguro and some readings from the book. Onto the queue it goes!
Sunday, February 17th, 2008
Taking two books along this week: Seeing and Never Let Me Go. As noted below, I won't be blogging; but I am hoping to take notes the old-fashioned way, and compose some good posts on my return.
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
I finished both books that I took along with me to read on the beach; each was in its own particular way, a satisfying, affecting read, and I want to post some of the notes I kept about them, particularly about Saramago's Seeing. This will take a few days to get done -- the notes are not in a particularly readable format right now but it's my hope that I can coax them into one.
I want to retract my earlier suggestion that you ought to read Seeing whether or not you have read Blindness; I think that the two books are at their best when read in sequence and that while you could enjoy either one of them by itself, that would take away a bit from the great beauty of the pair. I was thinking while I read about various ways of arguing for one book or the other as the better of the two -- they are different from one another in such a way as to invite that kind of argument I think -- but in the end the only thing to say is that they complement and perfect each other.
There is also a lot to say about Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go -- and that is the book that I find myself emailing and calling people to recommend -- I don't know how much of it I will be able to get down on paper before I read the book a second time. This book just sucked me in -- I found it completely impossible to put it down and take notes on what I was reading. I can't remember the last time I read a book that so strongly fit the term "page-turner".
Tuesday, March 25th, 2008
Today I recommended Never Let Me Go to Heebie-Geebie, who is leading (under duress?) a small reading workshop at her college. I think it would be a great book for the workshop; I thought I might also take a look at what some reviewers have said about it. Two I found very insightful: Louis Menand in The New Yorker -- Menand is not enthusiastic, exactly, but he seems to like Ishiguro and to get what he is writing about, and makes me really interested in reading the rest of Ishiguro's novels; and M. John Harrison writing in The Guardian, whose final paragraphs just made me tear up:
By the final, grotesque revelation of what really lies ahead for Kathy and Tommy and Ruth, readers may find themselves full of an energy they don't understand and aren't quite sure how to deploy. Never Let Me Go makes you want to have sex, take drugs, run a marathon, dance - anything to convince yourself that you're more alive, more determined, more conscious, more dangerous than any of these characters.
This extraordinary and, in the end, rather frighteningly clever novel isn't about cloning, or being a clone, at all. It's about why we don't explode, why we don't just wake up one day and go sobbing and crying down the street, kicking everything to pieces out of the raw, infuriating, completely personal sense of our lives never having been what they could have been.
(James Browning's review in The Village Voice, which I think is the closest of the three to a "rave", seems pretty incoherent to me and gets some details of the story wrong.)
Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
I'm so excited! Heard from Lauren that Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go has been made into a movie and is in the theaters -- I go over to check listings and it is playing in Montclair right now! Ellen and I are going to see it this weekend. (...And, making a mental note to myself to try and keep up with what movies are playing that would be interesting to me... It would have been a shame to miss this.)
Saturday, October 16th, 2010
Ellen and I watched Never Let Me Go this evening -- I am not sure quite what to say about it other than that I think it is an extremely faithful adaptation of the book: watching the movie felt very much like what I remember of the experience of reading the book. I would certainly recommend the movie on that basis alone; I thought it was a great, great book to read. But at the same time I'm not sure how necessary the movie is -- what it adds to the book. Some of the images were very powerful, such as Ruth hobbling on her walker the first time we see her after she has started donating, and Daniel screaming at the end of the film. And it was nice to have the "Never Let Me Go" song be an actual song that you could listen to. In general I liked the filming of the second half of the movie, when they were adults, much better than the portion set at Hailsham, which did not ring as true to me. The actors who played adult Tommy, Kathy, and Ruth all did a fantastic job.
(I'm just really puzzled by Manohla Dargis' review, the only review I've read of this film, by her claim that "your emotional response to the slow-creeping horror will most likely soon die, snuffed out by directorial choices that deaden a story already starved for oxygen." This just seems really off to me in a couple of different ways. * The direction seemed to me really well-done. * The movie is thoughtful and emotional, and the thoughtfulness does not kill the emotional response, quite the contrary. * You will find it confusing in places, how to respond emotionally, not be able to figure out quite what is going on until you think it through; this is an asset of the movie, one of the best things about it (and a way in which it is very successfully modeled after the book); Dargis seems to be complaining the movie is not manipulative enough, which just strikes me as a bizarre reaction.)
(...As James Sanford notes in his review, the transition from "young Kathy" to "adult Kathy" is excellent.)
Sunday, October 30th, 2016
If Never Let Me Go and Infinite Jest had a baby, it would be episode 2 of Black Mirror: Fifteen Million Merits.
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Check out Ellen's writing at Patch.com.