I should have bought My Name is Lucy Barton. Or Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. Or Paul Kalanithi’s memoir When Breath Becomes Air. But the latter promised a heartbreaking read. And. I was in no mood for gut-wrenching stories after wallowing in Pelagia’s Song from the film Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and the haunting Buon Giorno Principessa from the movie Life is Beautiful.
Then again. I’d waited a year before getting my hands on a copy. So I reached out and added Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant to my pile of books before heading to the cash register.
Thus it was that I finished two books last week: Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist and The Buried Giant. Of the three Paulo Coelho’s that I brought along only The Alchemist got read. I just didn’t have the heart to dig into the other two. Maybe I should have (The Devil and Miss Prym is a more compelling read but not half as inspirational as The Alchemist). Because. Ishiguro’s latest work is no easy read. Halfway through, I stopped and looked at its reviews online (I’d read the reviews a year ago when it first came out but couldn’t remember what they said). Well, it was good to know that I wasn’t the only one who struggled to finish the book.
To recap: the fantasy genre, the far-off setting, the archaic conversation, the unlikely events, the symbolism of the ever-present mist plus the themes of memory, loss and love … they all contributed to an impending sense of doom for me when in actuality, it had an ending that was a bit bitin (sorry for the pun!) and an affirmation of marital love.
“Tell me princess,” I hear him say, “Are you glad of the mist’s fading?”
“It may bring horrors to this land. Yet for us it fades just in time.”
“I was wondering, princess. Could it be our love would never have grown so strong down the years had the mist not robbed us the way it did? Perhaps it allowed old wounds to heal.”
Kazuo Ishiguro, The Buried Giant
Meanwhile, the release of Fitoor reminded me that there are classics out there that I’ve yet to introduce to the kids besides Shakespeare. Thus, I also bought Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and have just started on the novel whose two endings still invite discussions about their merits.