Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Text Conversation About a Book


When I found out that one of our next book club reads will be Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, I just had to let out a 'groan' and protest. Don't get me wrong, I love Ishiguro but Never Let Me Go has got to be the most emotionally devastating book and film that I've ever encountered. Yes, more even than Lars von Triers' movie, Breaking the Waves, which was already such a downer. However, no one else in my club had heard of Never Let Me Go so my protests were in vain. 

The next day I sent a text message to a friend of mine, Bambi. She had recently read Never Let Me Go for her book club. The following is our text conversation which started at around 7am  (typos, abbreviations and all). It's amazing how this exchange enhanced my view of the book. I always knew Ishiguro was an excellent writer but I've just realized how truly masterful he is. And although I still think the book has a distressing  subject matter, I can now appreciate its brilliance. It just goes to show that certain books are meant to be shared, discussed and dissected with others to thoroughly comprehend them. Thank goodness for my book loving friends, my fellow book bloggers and my book club!

Me: Hi! How did Never Let Me Go do in your book club? It's been chosen for a future meeting. Tried to protest but no one had heard of it  :-(
Bambi: We loved it.
Me: I'm surprised you liked it. It is the most depressing book/film ever!
Bambi: But the subject matter was riveting for me and I like Ishiguro's writing
Me: He is brilliant agreed. But the story is so depressing. Actually the movie more so cos u see how sick they look. Have username it?
Me: I mean have u seen it? iphone typo...
Bambi: Haven't seen it :)
Me: Ok. Now I get ur reaction. After reading book I didn't like it but only after the film did I have such a visceral reaction to it. U should see it anyway...
Bambi: Never Let Me Go would be okay as a choice if you've never read it.
Me: Actually there are worse choices. U r right. At least will promote discussion. Just don't want to revisit the feelings story provoked. Pls see film so we can discuss!
Bambi: Ok. :-)
Me: Great. I read the book years ago. From what I remember film is true to book but because of visuals more depressing.You know the story is completely hopeless. And u actually get that feeling reading/watching. So I guess it is certainly a powerful book to bring out this emotion.
Bambi: For the feeling of hopelessness, yes! That's it exactly. I felt wrenching pity for them. As a mom you can't separate these are kids that can be just like your child.
Me: I know! But gosh now I'm talking about it with u I see how powerful it is. I still don't love it but I'm appreciating it more.
Bambi: That auction and their treasures was so sad.
Me: Even when watching the film I kept hoping they would change ending. I guess it's human nature to be 4ever hopeful.
Bambi: I thought Ishiguro writing this was wonderful. I can't imagine this topic in the hands of a different author. I like his sense of restrained emotion. It could have been such an unabashedly emotional and/or horrifying read with someone else.
Me: Yes actually none of the characters were likeable but that was his intention I realize now.
Bambi: I didn't realize that til you mentioned it now: the characters weren't really likeable, but that was prob the point - you're so right! Despite that, you root for them. Brilliant of Ishiguro :-)
Me: Yes u still want happiness for them! Brilliant. U appreciate book more once discussed with another. Thx for chatting. I emailed Barni (my book club friend) and said I take my protest back. Never Let Me Go is a good choice cos I'm already having a great text conversation about it. Ha, ha.

10 comments:

  1. I'd enjoy doing Never Let me Go in a book club. After I finished reading it I was desperate to discuss it with someone. I am reading a book right now that has no literary merit, and that is very frustrating.

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  2. I think Never Let me Go is a great choice as there is so much to discuss. I haven't seen the film yet, but you have put me off a bit with mentioning how depressing it is! Perhaps I'm better off just leaving the pictures of the book in my head? It is nice to see you discussing a book via text messages - I haven't got any friends who'd do that :-( That is why I had to start blogging!

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  3. :) If there's anything you must know about me by now, it's that I love a book that brings all these strong opinions to the surface and may even polarize us. It makes the discussions richer, more meaningful. My mind grows when I hear opposing points of view. And yes, the movie was depressing, but the acting was so brilliant that it was forgivable!

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  4. My book club read The Remains of the Day two books ago, and it was a very fruitful discussion. I know that one's probably a little less depressing than Never Let Me Go... Still, I think NLMG will make an excellent discussion for your book club!

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  5. @AnneBennett - I'm desperate to discuss it now but I want to reread the book first.

    @farmlanebooks - Do see the film! I think it brought out stronger feelings than the book and there will be no surprises since you've already read the book.

    @Barni - I can't wait to discuss it. It will be interesting to hear your view of having seen the film first before reading the book.

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  6. I actually did love this book. I listened to the audiobook production with Emilia Fox as the narrator and was haunted by it. Such an incredible story and stunning writing, allowing an opportunity to dive into so many discussions on how we as a society accept things. Brilliant book.

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  7. I read the book this summer after my bookclub recommended it. I actually had no idea what the story was about and it was my first Ishiguro. I thought it was just brilliant. I liked it more and more after thinking about it some days after I finished reading it. It is really quite a feat for an author to write about such a strange topic in so subtle a way that you forget that it's so unrealistic - and you get so depressed! I can't wait to read more of his books!

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  8. @Natalie - I'll look for the audio version. That might be a good alternative instead of rereading the book.

    @Daniela - Hi Dan! Thanks for dropping by. I'd love to know what else you've read for your book club. You must read The Remains of the Day, The Unconsoled and When We Were Orphans.

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  9. May I join in for a 'virtual chat' about this book? At first reading, I didn't like it much, albeit still thought it was quite moving. But after seeing the movie, I suddenly clicked and realized the depth of it all. I find Kathy to be highly admirable a character, so's Tommy. Only Ruth is self-serving and blinded by jealousy. I've enjoyed reading your post of your text conversation. If any of your book club member is interested, may I share my review on both book and film. Hope that might stimulate some thoughts and discussion. :)

    I've enjoyed browsing through your wonderful blog!

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  10. @Arti - thats exactly how I fel when I read the book. I didnt like it much. The movie however made me even more depressed and honestly who likes feeling depressed? However on further reflection I can appreciate its brilliance. Not a book I love but a very good novel and so well crafted.

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