Starting, but rarely finishing

I’ve just finished reading ‘Never let me go’ by Kazuo Ishiguru. It was shortlisted for the Booker prize last year but I didn’t read it then and I can’t remember how it was received by the critics; of course there are quotes at the front of the paperback of favourable ones. It isn’t a book to like, the subject matter is too creepy for that (and is gradually unveiled, so it would be unfair of me to explain further) but, even in ‘The Unconsoled’, which I can’t remember making head nor tail of, he never writes anything but well.

It’s written in the voice of Kathy, a 31-year-old woman, and set in the late 1990s; it becomes apparent that it is placed in an ‘alternate’ 1990s and that it is, in fact, science fiction. Since it is written by a woman with a limited viewpoint and one sees nothing except through her eyes, it is impossible to criticise the viewpoint he chooses to show us. The quoted Evening Standard review says, at the end “It is peculiarly pure fiction in this way, abstract, uncluttered by reference, claiming no great knowledge other than that of the heart” – which ending sounds a bit schmaltzy but isn’t, it’s true in a distorted way. It is the oddest book I’ve read for a while, but worth having read.

I’ve been finding it hard to finish books recently. I always have more than one on the go, partly so that, wherever I am in the house, I don’t need to be without a book. But I haven’t had time to read for long stretches at a time, and I haven’t been so stressed that reading has been vital – books are my security blanket; I can be calmed by their presence and soothed by rereading an old favourite. When, as they say, the going gets tough, I up my speed and my eyes flick across the pages, devouring words greedily – which is to be recommended as an alternative to quantities of chocolate or ice cream. Anyway, I’ve been mildly anxious about busy-ness, which has affected my concentration, whilst not actually being worried or unhappy about it, so I’ve been reading a little, but superficially.

Books and candles mark my subliminal moods. If I want to know how I really feel, I think how many lit candles surround my night-time bath, and how and what I am reading. I think that’s a bit pathetic, but who am I to judge?

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