Tuesday, 21 January 2014

three.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (2013)

 “Hi!
My name is Nao, and I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you.

A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be. As for me, right now I am sitting in a French maid cafe in Akiba Electricity Town, listening to a sad Chanson that is playing sometime in your past, which is also my present, writing this and wondering about you, somewhere in my future. And if you're reading this, then maybe by now you're wondering about me, too.

You wonder about me.
I Wonder about you.
Who are you and what are you doing?” 

Ruth finds a box containing a diary in English, a notebook in French and some letters in Japanese washed ashore on an island in British Columbia. The diary is written by a young Japanese girl, Nao, who is getting bullied and wants to talk about her 104 year old Zen Buddhist nun great-grandmother. The book alters between Nao's diary and Ruth reading it. As Nao's story progresses, Ruth gets more worried about her and tries to find her on the Internet.

Once I started this, I couldn't put it down. I was fascinated, both by Nao's diary and by Ruth's island life. But the end was such a let down. I mean, so much potential, and then you end it with a conversation about quantum physics? And the other thing which annoyed me was that she chose to put herself and her husband in it. Especially when Ruth turned out to be my least favourite character. Oliver was more likeable. And although I read this great interview, I worry that I will always link the author Ruth to the Ruth in the book, and I fear that this will make it harder to read her other books.

But, yes to everything else! I loved the mesmerising and sad tale of Nao, her awesome great-grandmother and the island community. I also like how the nature on the island is a character, and that there are so much to learn from this book; both of Japanese culture and how the environment works.

5 comments:

  1. Flott beskrevet og jeg er helt enig med deg. Bokens avslutning er for teknisk, her hadde feks Marquez, avsluttet på en annen tone - boken manglet denne siste løften. Som du sier, så mye potensial, og så avslutte slik? Men ellers; for en oppslukende bok. Jeg er litt ambivalent hva gjelder at Ruth skriver seg selv inn i boken - på en måte positivt fordi boken blir mer umiddelbar, samtidig er jeg også enig i at det gjør det mer komplisert å lese mer av henne. Hun byr så generøst av seg selv, det styrker boken, men gjør den nesten litt overveldende. Hun er så veldig tilstede.

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    1. Helt enig. Og hun blir kanskje veldig tilstede når man ikke blir så begeistret for karakteren.

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  2. PS Supert link til Penguin intervjuet som var kjempeinteressant!

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  3. Ja! Helt enig angående slutten. Skjønner ikke hvorfor vi trenger en forklaring i det hele tatt, et univers som dette kan jo fint følge sin egen indre logikk uten tekniske forklaringer. I tillegg virker hele kvantefysikk perspektivet veldig..konstruert på meg, mens resten av boka virker så naturlig. På sett og vis.

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    Replies
    1. Jepp. Og jeg bare skumma igjennom appendixene for det ble også veldig teknisk, og da var jeg på en måte lei. Men ellers var det veldig lett å leve seg inn i historien, og stakkars lille Nao kommer lenge til å være en karakter som jeg ofte tenker på.

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