LITERATURE: The Unconsoled – Technique

There’s something that Ishiguro does in this novel that’s either brilliant or terribly annoying. While it likely comes under the category of changing point of view–to first person omniscient no less–it is in keeping with the surreal plotting of events that this book is based upon. In other words, it’s in keeping with the dream-like quality of the story rather than following reality to any degree.

Here’s an example:

I could hear Pedro struggling to gain a few paces. Then I heard him shout:

‘I said, we seem to have got the shit convinced. I think he’s going to go along with it.’

‘Well,’ the journalist shouted back, ‘he’s co-operated so far, but you can never take these types for granted. So keep up the flattery. He’s come this far up and he seems quite happy about it. But then I don’t think the fool even knows the significance of the building.’   (p. 180)

The ‘fool’ they’re speaking of, of course, is Mr. Ryder, our narrator who’s going with the journalist and photographer for a quick interview.  The funniest part is that the narrator, in relating this, remains oblivious to the fact of his hearing this private conversation.

Now the first time it was kind of fun and wow and all that; coming up again it’s admittedly tiring, particularly since we don’t know what purpose this serves, whether it is to reiterate the fact that Ishiguro is not sticking to reality of time and place (and that’s unnecessary since we already know something’s different about this story) or to flaunt the elements of style and tradition or for some other reason. And it’s that ‘some other reason’ that probably irks me more than anything. Throughout this story I’ve had the feeling that I’m missing the point, or missing a page or whatever that keeps me outside of the story.

The characters are not sympathetic–or rather, I am not sympathetic to them since they too become unreal and besides, they’re all doing such strange stuff. Ryder has just walked off and left his young son in a cafe somewhere, promising to get right back to him and then all these other people show up and he willingly goes off in other directions.

Something else weird too; and again, it bothers me more because there may or may not be a good reason for it: the single quotation mark rather than normal quotes for dialogue. Is that just an artistic quirk or is it more proper than any other first person novel in that it is indeed, a retelling of story by the narrator.  — okay, I just checked the first page and if the latter were the case, then the double quotes should be at the opening sentence and it’s not.

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