Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nocturnes by Kazuo Ishiguro

I'm not a big fan of short stories but I'm a big fan of Ishiguro. After recently having an enlightening text conversation with a friend about Never Let Me Go (see here), I decided to read Nocturnes, Ishiguro's latest release which is a collection of five short stories about music, musicians and the close of the day.

Each story is told in the first person by either a musician or a music lover. The settings are Venice, London, the English countryside, Los Angeles and then back to Venice. There is a recurring theme among all the stories - love and the passage of time. If you look up the exact English definition of nocturne, it means 'an instrumental composition of a pensive, dreamy mood, especially one for the piano.' Dreamy and pensive are exactly the words I would use to describe these stories. Although all the stories were quiet and understated they were rather engrossing.

I usually just dip into short story books but I read Nocturnes from cover to cover in just a few days. It has Ishiguro's usual sensitive, beautiful and yet self-contained writing style. I suppose he also drew on his experiences being a musician himself and a former chorister. What makes this book special is the writing. It's not surprising that soon after this I decided to read another Ishiguro, A Pale View of Hills.


  1. Such a nice introduction to the book, I feel a great temptation to read it now! :)

  2. This one sounds really good and I've not read Ishiguro before.

  3. I think some authors really excel at short stories and some do not. Based on the novels I'ver read by Ishiguro, in which he really makes every word count, I could see him being a fantastic short story writer, so I'm glad you enjoyed this one!

  4. I agree: this is an outstanding collection. The five stories work together like the movements of a musical work - while each has a different tone, themes repeat, and each one informs the others.

    However, The Remains of the Day continues to be his masterpiece.


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