Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Remains of the Day : Kazuo Ishiguro

The Remains of the Day
By Kazuo Ishiguro

Like Never Let Me Go, this novel is both beautifully written and structured. The narrative is told from the perspective of a high-end British butler, Stevens, and as such, the vernacular must match that of the character.  I understand that Ishiguro grew up in the UK, but I still find his ability to inhabit that word choice, diction and mentality quite remarkable.

The structure of the book is of the butler taking a road-trip, away from the house of Darlington that he has worked for his entire career and Ishiguro switches between the happenings of the trip and the butler's memories of his service for the Lord Darlington, the lively fellow house-keeper, Miss Keaton and his father, a former butler of another esteemed house.  Description of his service for the  lord, provides detailed insight into the precise, but very extreme service (some might almost say slavish) mentality/philosophy that Stevens lives by, as well as historical context as Lord Darlington played a role in pushing for social issues during the time between World War I and World War II.

These remarkably clear details of Stevens' personality and the atmosphere give the novel much texture, like you're getting a first person viewing of another time and another person.  At the same time, the long-term pay-off, as Stevens relates these memories to the reader, he himself is coming to a different viewpoint of his entire life, so that all of these details fit into a larger scoped narrative.

All in all, a well-done novel.

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