One of the most celebrated writers of our time gives us his first cycle of short fiction: five brilliantly etched, interconnected stories in which music is a vivid and essential character.
A once-popular singer, desperate to make a comeback, turning from the one certainty in his life . . . A man whose unerring taste in music is the only thing his closest friends value in him . . . A struggling singer-songwriter unwittingly involved in the failing marriage of a couple he's only just met . . . A gifted, underappreciated jazz musician who lets himself believe that plastic surgery will help his career . . . A young cellist whose tutor promises to "unwrap" his talent . . .
Passion or necessity--or the often uneasy combination of the two--determines the place of music in each of these lives. And, in one way or another, music delivers each of them to a moment of reckoning: sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes just eluding their grasp.
An exploration of love, need, and the ineluctable force of the past, Nocturnes reveals these individuals to us with extraordinary precision and subtlety, and with the arresting psychological and emotional detail that has marked all of Kazuo Ishiguro's acclaimed works of fiction.
- New York Times Notable Books of the Year
This suite of five stories hits all of Ishiguro's signature notes, but the shorter form mutes their impact. In "Crooner," Tony Gardner, a washed-up American singer, goes sloshing through the canals of Venice to serenade his trophy wife, Lindy. The narrator, Jan, is a hired guitar player whose mother was a huge fan of Tony, but Jan's experience playing for Tony fractures his romantic ideals. Lindy returns in the title story, which finds her in a luxury hotel reserved for celebrity patients recovering from cosmetic surgery. The narrator this time is Steve, a saxophonist who could never get a break because of his "loser ugly" looks. Lindy idly strikes up a friendship with Steve as they wait for their bandages to come off and their new lives to begin. In the final story, "Cellists," an unnamed saxophonist narrator who, like Jan, plays in Venice's San Marco square, observes the evolving relationship of a Hungarian cello prodigy after he meets an American woman. The stories are superbly crafted, though they lack the gravity of Ishiguro's longer works (Never Let Me Go; Remains of the Day), which may leave readers anticipating a crescendo that never hits.
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September 19, 2009
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