My buddy David started the Cornerstone Bible Church Book Club, and things were going well… for a while. Then, he left for law school and left the club in the hands of a busy graphic arts student and a dork who’s hates administration as much as she loves books (i.e. me). And, now, the club seems to be foundering.
After nearly three months of postponements, I finally got a meeting of the David-less CBC Book Club together to discuss our last pick: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.
Attendees: Me and my girl Bluemeday.
I suppose we could’ve postponed another week, but it’s been three months, and we needed to put this book out of its misery.
It’s really a shame that more people weren’t able to come and discuss. This book has so many levels, and all of those levels are heart-wrenching.
Our narrator, Kathy, is recounting the story of her schoolgirl days at Hailsham, an exclusive academy for “special” children. There is never any mention of parents, with good reason: (SPOILER!!) ethay idskay atyay Ailshamhay areyay onesclay edbray otay onateday italvay organsyay otay eoplepay.
The students’ purpose for existing makes them special, but it also makes their lives somewhat futile. Their ultimate purpose calls in to question the motivation behind everything they do: would Kathy be best friends with the manipulative Ruth if she knew that she could choose to live a normal life? Would Tommy have dated Ruth if he knew that he had to think about the future? Would Ruth be so conniving if she knew that changing her ways could change her life?
Ishiguro leaves those questions unanswered, which made for a lively, two-man discussion. And it also causes the readers to question what they would want if they were a special kid like Kathy: is ignorance bliss or is a fulfilling existence worth trading the rest of your life? Is that existence as fulfilling when you know that things can’t stay good for much longer?
The cruelest part of the book is that Ishiguro dangles the possibility of hope in front of Kathy and in front of the reader. You hope that love will change everything, but (SPOILER!!) ityay oesn’tday. That, in turn, raises further questions: is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all? Would Kathy have fallen in love if she had known that it would be doomed in this way?
My only nitpick about the book is that I found it irritating that every new scene is prefaced with Kathy mentioning a seemingly unrelated anecdote and then quipping, “Little did I know how much _____________ would mean to me in only a few short days.”
Come on, Ishiguro. You’re a better writer than that. Once or twice in a book, that convention is okay, but every single scene? Come on, man.
But that’s a tiny nitpick that I had with a stirring and thought-provoking book. All in all, I’d say that Ishiguro has my stamp of approval as a writer.
Because it means so much for famous authors to have my approval.