Tuesday, October 19, 2004

On Ishiguro and James

I am currently three-quarters into my first Kazuo Ishiguro novel — A Pale View of Hills — and I can safely confirm that I have never been as impressed as this by anyone's first novel (both in terms of sequence and in terms of me reading them) in recent memory. I'm obviously not talking about Salinger or Douglas Adams or Lewis Carroll, et al.
I have a tendency of not being too swayed by recommendations, even if they come from people more qualified than me or people I trust on matters as these. Blame it on a history of being misled by reviews and stuff. That's why I decided to start with Ishiguro's thinnest novel I had access to (fortunately his first as well); even if it weren't great, I wouldn't have lost much. But I am now quite sure I am going to leave everything else and hit the other two Ishiguros Ajitha has. No way anything else is going to be prioritised.
Why do I think he is superb? Mainly because of his language. I don't know how many people enjoy it, but I am a big one for conversational writing and movie-making. I love his feel for the language and I love his feel for story-telling. And — I will post a blog again after finishing the book — I am sure I will find a few more appreciative things to say by the end of the book.
Why is the blog headed 'Ishiguro and James'? Because I usually pick up two or three books together, leave a majority of them unfinished, and continue in this vein. This is important, because I have never before looked forward to reading something as I was when it came to C L R James' Beyond A Boundary. I have been looking for it everywhere; on the Net, in second/third-hand bookstores, libraries...everywhere. Never found it. My sister was away on vacation to England, and I sent her frantic messages to try and track down the book. She brought back a rather new (1998, and therefore disappointing) edition, but it was still 'Beyond A Boundary'! The words were the same, right! So that's what I am reading simultaneously with Ishiguro.
It doesn't usually work like this though. really looking for a particular book. I remember Ajitha searching high and low for Poppy Z Brite's 'Swamp Foetus'. She tracked it down on the Net, and we now have the same book at home, republished as 'Wormwood'. Or is it 'Woodworm'. The way it usually works for me is finding a book in the bookstore or at a friend's. Buying it, or borrowing it, or whacking it. That's usual. But I have never searched as high and as low as I have for 'Beyond a Boundary'. And now, despite being as impressed by it as I thought I would and should be, I can't seem to get Ishiguro out of my mind.
Coming back to Ishiguro; he has to be the greatest thing to happen to English language writing since Douglas Adams. If anyone hasn't read him, start. And finish.