Writer: Kazuo Ishiguro
Publishing House: Faber and Faber
Date of Publication: May 5th 2009
Rating: 5 stars
‘’So a moment like that comes as an unwelcome reminder of how quickly things change. How the bosom pals of today become lost strangers tomorrow, scattered across Europe, playing the Godfather theme or ‘Autumn Leaves’ in squares and cafes you’ll never visit.’’
I believe that most of us have a writer that acts as a comfort. A writer whose work we choose to revisit once we feel that nothing is as it should be. This is a period which has taken a significant toll on me on a number of levels. Kazuo Ishiguro and his tender, sensitive, hopeful writing felt like a suitable choice. It goes without saying that this collection is one of my favourite creations by this master of Literature.
In five stories, Ishiguro writes about love, loss, uncertainty, change, and music. Music above all. As the beautiful title of this collection reveals, these are stories centered around musicians and the turning point in their lives. The crucial moments in each story take place during evenings filled with memory, sadness and the glimpse of a fragile hope that everything may actually become whole again. In each story, the shaky relationships are witnessed by a ‘’bystander’’ that reflects on love and the human tendency to break apart what we’ve managed to build over the years. Why? Just because we can, apparently…
Crooner: In Venice, a musician from a country of the former Iron Curtain meets an American singer. A story of memories, aspirations, and disappointments.
Come Rain or Come Shine: A very sympathetic academic is the reluctant witness of his best friends’ desperate fight to tear down their marriage, despite the fact that they are obviously obsessed with each other. A darkly humorous story where CDs may very well be the absolute victims…
Malvern Hills: A young, aspiring musician meets a middle-aged couple of professional musicians while working in his sister’s inn. A couple that is obviously miss-matched but united in their love for music in an extremely ‘’picturesque’’ story.
Nocturne: An underachieving musician is advised to consider a plastic surgery to become more handsome…And he accepts. He meets a famous woman whose nocturnal escapades in their hotel provide a chance for contemplation and a possible moment of realization regarding fame and vanity.
Cellists: A young Hungarian musician meets a beautiful cellist. But nothing is as it seems. This was my favourite story in the collection, its ending almost brought tears to my eyes.
Ishiguro’s stories take us to Italy, to England, to Austria, to Eastern Europe with its tremendous musical tradition. Couples are dancing under the summer nightly sky, they explore hotels in the middle of the night, they try to regain confidence in themselves and the others. Some succeed, some fail. Through Ishiguro’s quiet, powerful writing, the characters become our friends, people we care about. Love and music go hand-in-hand. Nightfall is the most suitable chaperone for both. Upon finishing Nocturnes, I felt a little lighter, a little more optimistic…
‘’But for another few minutes at least, we were safe, and we kept dancing under the starlit sky.’’