Lost in the flow

Having thoroughly enjoyed two of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels, Never Let Me Go and Klara and the Sun, it felt like time to visit the author’s perhaps best known work, The Remains of the Day. And, of course, it is a mysterious treasure.

Ishiguro has a knack for creating endearingly flawed narrators and unfolding the story in a way that shows us the other characters in a light that the narrator doesn’t quite understand. As I write this, our friend Stevens is on his way to the climactic reunion with Miss Kenton that, I suspect, will be surprising and sweet, given my past experience with Ishiguro. (The resolution of Klara and the Sun may be my favorite reading moment of this year.)

I enjoy getting lost in stories. As a writer I should pay closer attention to the storyteller’s methods, I suppose, to see what they do to make me lost, but the enjoyment is in the story, not the dissection. And I wonder if I were to try applying lessons and formulas rather than just getting lost in the story as I tell it, the resulting work would feel a bit mechanical. I can sense when a formulaic story has reached its halfway point because the hero has come to her lowest ebb before starting to piece together her eventual triumph.

No, I’m ready to drift along with the story like the proverbial leaf carried on the stream. I would wager the authors of the best stories get caught up the same way. I’m pleased to be able to say I’ve had a few “scenes that wrote themselves” along the way, though I’ve never yet written a tale as fine as Ishiguro’s.

I’d love to see the film now that I’ve read the book, especially as I see Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson are the leads.

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