Monday 14 October 2013

Counting Down to the Man Booker: Day Six - A Tale for the Time Being

The end of The Coombe Cottage Countdown! Tomorrow is the grand announcement, and A and J's grand event in our village. The last book! What a shame to be nearly over!

J said: Ruth Oseki's book is my Booker winner for this year. I liked so many aspects of it:
the mystery of the washed up notebooks
what would happen to Nao
what would happen to Nao's father
Nao's amazing grandmother
modern life in Tokyo
modern life on an island off British Columbia
the little bits of Japanese
so much lovely life-detail
the Zen  proselytism
the way that Ruth and Oliver's relationship worked.

I suppose the only bits I didn't much like were the brutalism of Japanese second world war army life (yet again! it felt like), the nastiness of school children, particularly when their teacher joined in (and I didn't understand that), and the slightly messy and I felt unnecessary way that the end dealt with uncertain outcomes by bringing in quantum theory. Not serious though.

A said: The last of my Booker reads and one I had not expected to enjoy. However it was a very touching and detailed tale of 3 eras of Japanese life through the diaries of. 15 year old. It's actually 2 stories again, just like the lowland and we need new names, with a second strand based in the USA. The hello kitty lunch box containing the diary lands on the shore of a writer and her husbands him and she - Ruth. - the name of the actual author unravels the bits of the tale not actually presented in detail in th diaries though a series of found letters.
I really enjoyed the Japanese story - the ancient Buddhist monk and the details of the thoughts and rituals, the family intactions, the world war 2 story all presented through 15 year old eyes. The immaturity and naively of this authorial voice is used very effectively. The other side of the story with a struggling author other other side of the world just didn't captivate me and the touches of magical realism with dreams and interactions between the 2 stories didn't work as far as I was concerned. I wondered whether the Japanese story alone would have somehow been ale to carry the story and whether we really needed the drawn out expose of authority control and writers block. Not a winner from my point of view I think.

For our previous posts:

Day One - A Testament of Mary 
Day Two - We Need New Names  
Day Three - Harvest
Day Four - The Luminaries

Day Five - The Lowland 

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