I have long loved the works of Kazuo Ishiguro, the British author with the Japanese name, ever since I read "Remains of the Day" in the 90's.
And, despite the fact that most movies based on books I love often disappoint, the movie version of "Remains of the Day," a Merchant-Ivory Production with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson, was a delight. I can't wait to see this new one.
Ishiguro specializes in cultural dilemmas, which is not surprising given his biography. What is surprising is how deftly he does his work. His writing is very subtle, but very engaging. There's no long descriptions of the landscape, thank goodness. Rather, he talks from inside the character, letting you hear their private thoughts, allowing them to put forth and defend their thoughts and their lives. It's prosaic stuff, for the first 50 pages.
But eventually, you realize that the character has failed to grasp the essential points that surround him or her.
As have we.
And that's where the novel catapults you into a higher consciousness.
Delicious trailer after the jump.
That's what I love about teaching. Enlightening college students is not about teaching them how marvelous and exciting life is with the light of knowledge. They got all that Disney BS in the local K-12 run by know-nothing school boards, who want to "let kids be kids" (i.e. don't tell them anything disturbing to adults).
Rather, college education is about learning that what they thought was life is merely a pretty dream, and that real life is something entirely different, and that they better learn to think critically or live continually disappointed.
The delicious part about this is that we, too, are characters in an Ishiguro novel. We vigorously defend our beliefs and our choices, but we are really in no position to understand them in context, and we often fail miserably or comically to grasp the larger picture in which we operate.
My favorite quote is from Lord Walpole: Life is a comedy to those that think, and a tragedy to those who feel.
Ishiguro's book, "Never Let Me Go," is about the cultural dilemmas surrounding biotechnology, but the human elements dominate, and there are no long descriptions of anything medical or scientific, thank goodness. They're unnecessary, as this is about human beings, not test tubes. Or is it? Anyway, it's been adapted into a movie by director Mark Romanek.
It's not science fiction. It's now, only you don't know it yet. Get thee to a theater.