The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

Once again, I’m at a loss for how to begin my review of the book.

I’ve doubted on whether I should even begin to write the review. I don’t think I’ve ever attempted to write about a book, which I technically have not finished yet. Hopefully you’ll understand why I’ve gone ahead with my take on an unfinished read by the end.

Where to begin?

The story, if there really is one… Centers around a world famous concert pianist Ryder, who arrives in a European country (unknown) to give a concert. What we are met with, is a series of appointments and promises that Ryder can’t seem to keep and/or remember.  It all becomes a tangled jostled mess.

Initially I was intrigued by the books flow

It seemed almost dream like, instead of drifting in and out of consciousness, as a reader you are drifting in and out of coherence. So much so, that I was constantly asking myself where is this going? Is this a dream? Is this Limbo? Is this the musings of a psychopath? Is this the flash of someone’s life before their eyes in their moment of death? I really found myself most of the way through at a loss. Still am as I have obviously not yet finished.

It was frustrating and tiring, to turn the page for more of the same.

Interestingly enough frustration and the dull ache of existence seemed also to be central themes through out the book. Redemption, regret and hope were mixed in there as well. Don’t ask me where in the book, or why I say this. As I have no idea it’s more of a feeling than any concrete line I can recall.

Hard to follow is an understatement.

In fact I’m not sure it’s really meant to be followed at all.  Ryder is playing the piano in a beautiful hall when suddenly the door opens and he’s in a corner bistro. New characters weave in and out without introduction or farewell. But I must say this is not what turned me off of the book. I was determined to get to the end. I figured surely by the end I would have that ‘aha’ moment making this headache worth it .

So perplexed was I by this book that I even read an article on it, making sure it was one with no spoiler. I just wanted to get a feel for what it was that I was supposed to be reading. (I never do this, I like to read a book with no presuppositions)

In said article it actually mentioned that the majority of people who started this book didn’t finish it. Well, that was it for me, challenge accepted. I would make my way through this haze and come out on the other end victorious. Right? Well, wrong or at least not quite yet.

What happened you ask?

Something that has honestly never happened to me before. As any avid reader knows, the joy of reading is the elaborate world you create as you go.  You become invested in the characters as much as the surroundings.

Although I was reading a twisted knot of literature 

In my mind this was all taking place in the late 19th Century. Now, looking back, I’m not sure why exactly this was the case. Perhaps it was the formal tone everyone spoke in, or the ardent veneration bestowed upon Ryder. I don’t know, but this was the world I had created and implanted myself in. So imagine my dismay, when more than halfway through there is a random reference to Clint Eastwood! 

The already crazy jumbled dreamlike trance I was trying desperately to follow came crashing down. That was it for me. I had to stop reading. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that for this whole time I have been not in the wrong decade but in the wrong century.

This changes everything, all interactions and musings and references now suddenly take on a completely different meaning.

I have no choice but to start again from the very beginning, and for that to happen I need a breather. A break to reset my mind and give this book a second go.

Has this or anything similar ever happened to you? I’d love to hear about it.

Hopefully I will have an update for you on when I’ve managed to achieve the goal of actually finishing and understanding, what is turning out to be a truly exhausting book.

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