Nocturnes is a thought-provoking short story collection by Kazuo Ishiguro, the esteemed author of The Remains of the Day, which won the 1989 Booker Prize, Never Let Me Go, and The Buried Giant.
Kazuo Ishiguro's seven published books have won him wide renown and many honours around the world. His work has been translated into over forty languages. The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go have each sold in excess of 1,000,000 copies in Faber editions alone, and both were adapted into highly acclaimed films. His latest novel is The Buried Giant.
In Venice, an old-time singer drafts a guitar player from one of the piazza's bands to accompany him as he serenades the wife he is about to leave. She later turns up in the tale of a sax player whose own wife, having left him, offers to pay for plastic surgery that could help his career. A man who once shared a love for show tunes with an old friend is asked by her husband to act the fool to help save their marriage. A self-centered songwriter breeds disruption while working at his sister's inn, and an inspiring cellist encounters a most unusual teacher. Despite what one might expect from the title, these aren't stories about music, which is simply enfolded in the characters' lives; the music doesn't so much inspire the action as frame it. The writing is lighter and more loose-limbed than one might expect of the author of Never Let Me Go, but it delivers the same scary insights into human misbehavior. Verdict Once again Ishiguro does something different; recommended for anyone who loves thoughtful writing. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
This suite of five stories hits all of Ishiguro's signature notes, but the shorter form mutes their impact. In "Crooner," Tony Gardner, a washed-up American singer, goes sloshing through the canals of Venice to serenade his trophy wife, Lindy. The narrator, Jan, is a hired guitar player whose mother was a huge fan of Tony, but Jan's experience playing for Tony fractures his romantic ideals. Lindy returns in the title story, which finds her in a luxury hotel reserved for celebrity patients recovering from cosmetic surgery. The narrator this time is Steve, a saxophonist who could never get a break because of his "loser ugly" looks. Lindy idly strikes up a friendship with Steve as they wait for their bandages to come off and their new lives to begin. In the final story, "Cellists," an unnamed saxophonist narrator who, like Jan, plays in Venice's San Marco square, observes the evolving relationship of a Hungarian cello prodigy after he meets an American woman. The stories are superbly crafted, though they lack the gravity of Ishiguro's longer works (Never Let Me Go; Remains of the Day), which may leave readers anticipating a crescendo that never hits. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.