LITERATURE: The Unconsoled – Voice and Pace

Old-fashioned and slow.

But that’s harsh, since the writing style is indeed wonderfully proper prose and as the story opens with a first person narrator, a concert pianist named Mr. Ryder, arriving at a hotel and being somewhat taken aback at the reaction he receives along with the news that he will be following a very strict and busy schedule during his stay. He seems to have a lapse of memory and is unable to voice his confusion to any of the hotel staff. We’re up to 30 pages so far and not much else has happened.

That’s fine; I’m not one who insists upon drama and action to fulfill my reading needs. There would seem to be however a perfect time here to broaden the character, and yet we get more information about the elevator operator’s daughter and grandson than we get from (or rather out of, since he is first person) Ryder himself. Particularly since it would appear that there is something odd going on and he doesn’t know what it is and won’t ask.

So much for pace. The writing style and voice had me looking several times for the date of publishing. The language is formal, perfect, but reminiscent of a style of novels of the late 18th, early 19th century:

I emerged from the elevator to find the lobby far livelier than before. All around me, guests were lounging in armchairs, leafing through newspapers or chatting together over cups of coffee.  Near the reception desk several Japanese people were greeting one another with much jollity.  I was slightly bemused by this transformation and did not notice the hotel manager until he had come right up to me.  (p. 19)

The words to me seem outdated: livelier, bemused, and jollity? With this out-of-time manner of relating the story, and the out-of-time attention given to small events that would seem unrelated to the here and now of Mr. Ryder’s plight, I might say that I am a tad disappointed with the narrative thus far.

(See, Ishiguro’s novel reads much like my own stilted manner of posting.)

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