"A Tale for the Time Being", by Ruth Ozeki: DISCUSSION Friday, August 12, 1:00 PM EDT

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Unionist
"A Tale for the Time Being", by Ruth Ozeki: DISCUSSION Friday, August 12, 1:00 PM EDT

Unionist

Continued from here.

 

Caissa

Good to go.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

I (alas) failed to re-read the whole book as I had hoped, but did look through parts of it again. Time, that destroyer of plans! Oh well.

I am anxious to hear sagacious insights from you guys. My contributions will of neccessity be more appreciative than perceptive. I have a 2:15-3:15 appointment  in the environs but will keep tabs on the discussion until I can get back to my keyboard.

Unionist

In the good old days, when we were able to book (e.g.) an author to be present during the discussion, it was far more important to stick to an agreed several-hour timeline. And a deadline always has salutary effects on procrastination (speaking for myself, anyway). But I don't believe we need to be so strict. If people want to weigh in next week, or whenever, with a viewpoint, I don't see the big problem. Likewise with books of the past. I was actually thinking to revive the "Between the World and Me" conversation in light of events of this summer, and may yet do so.

Just saying.

 

Unionist

dp - too many clicks.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Unionist wrote:

In the good old days, when we were able to book (e.g.) an author to be present during the discussion, it was far more important to stick to an agreed several-hour timeline. And a deadline always has salutary effects on procrastination (speaking for myself, anyway).

 

Absolutely. If I don't have a deadline, I don't allot time to get something done, so having a timeline is very beneficial.

Quote:
I was actually thinking to revive the "Between the World and Me" conversation in light of events of this summer, and may yet do so.

Just saying.

I second the motion!  For one thiing, people who might be interested may have felt (as I did) that they could only contribute on the discussion day appointed.  And while having a definite time to get started is also a good strategy, it excludes people who can't participate at that time  - work schedules may interfere, as often happened for me, and I expect may be an issue for other people. Then too, there are the slow processors, also like me, who mull over a comment or contribution and don't have a ready response but want to add to it a day or more later. it would be good to encourage a continuing discussion. As for Between the World and Me I thought there was much more to mull over in that book (and I wanted to respond to a thoughtful post you made on the subject) but figured I was too late.

So yes, let's foster ongoing discussions. 

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Unionist wrote:

In the good old days, when we were able to book (e.g.) an author to be present during the discussion, it was far more important to stick to an agreed several-hour timeline. And a deadline always has salutary effects on procrastination (speaking for myself, anyway).

 

Absolutely. If I don't have a deadline, I don't allot time to get something done, so having a timeline is very beneficial.

Quote:
I was actually thinking to revive the "Between the World and Me" conversation in light of events of this summer, and may yet do so.

Just saying.

I second the motion!  For one thiing, people who might be interested may have felt (as I did) that they could only contribute on the discussion day appointed.  And while having a definite time to get started is also a good strategy, it excludes people who can't participate at that time  - work schedules may interfere, as often happened for me, and I expect may be an issue for other people. Then too, there are the slow processors, also like me, who mull over a comment or contribution and don't have a ready response but want to add to it a day or more later. it would be good to encourage a continuing discussion. As for Between the World and Me I thought there was much more to mull over in that book (and I wanted to respond to a thoughtful post you made on the subject) but figured I was too late.

So yes, let's foster ongoing discussions. 

Caissa

Open discussions, closed discussions. Same thing.

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

Open discussions, closed discussions. Same thing.

LOL! Channeling Jiko already, and the discussion hasn't even begun!

Caissa

This isn't a book I would have found on my own so I am once again thankful to BBC for expanding my reading horizons. I found the book slow for me to get in to a reading groove. Once I did, I appreciated the various ways that the book played with the concept of a time. My first two degrees are history so the use of artifacts and research were appealing.

Unionist

I have a weakness for books with interweaving stories (different spaces, different times) - Cloud Atlas comes to mind. This one was both easier and harder to reconcile in some ways. But ultimately I found it fascinating.

Unionist

Anyone else here yet? Infracaninophile? Left Turn? Did I mention there's detention for late arrivals?

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I've yet to finish the book. I'm on page 196, which is basically halfway through, so I'll contribute my thoughts so far, as this is the scheduled discussion time, even though we're not sticking to a strict discussion timeline.

I'm enjoying the book, Nao's story in particular. Though I had difficulty getting into the book at first. It took me almost a month to read the first 40 pages. The story wasn't really going anywhere at that point, and I wasn't sure I wanted to take the time to read the whole thing.

I'm also a slow reader, which doesn't account for why it took almost a month to read 40 pages, but does partly count for why I'm only halfway through the book at this point. The other reason is that my reading has been competing with my watching of season 1 & 2 of the Sopranos (finally decided to start watching that show), and more recently the Olympics.

I'm enjoying Nao's story, and I'm looking forwards to where it goes in the second half of the book. I really like the uniqueness of Nao's story.

Ruth's story I'm not enjoying as much. I generally like it when writers put more of themselves into their work, as Ruth Ozeki seems to be doing with Ruth's story; yet the narrative function of Ruth's story seems to be mainly as a framing device for Nao's story.

Based on the descriptions that I'd seen online prior to starting to read the book, I thought the book was going to be about a woman who to Japan to find out about an old Buddhist nun through interviewing people who knew her. So I've been a bit disappointed that Ruth's story doesn't seem to be moving in the direction of her travelling to Japan.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Since I rarely read fiction, I can confidently say I would never have stumbled across this book (in fact I had never heard of the author, and I do follow Canadian literary news in a general way so that surprised me). However although it starts slowly I found it engaging from the first (though the footnotes kind of bogged me down, as I felt obliged to read them all, and I am not at all familiar with Japanese culture so it was helpful to have terms and customs explained).

I liked the way the author adeptly juggled a realistiic approach with narrative sections that can be ambiguously interpreted. Were they magical? Were they hallucinatory? I found the author was playing with ideas - not only ideas of time, but also of reality. What is real? All this was helped along by my favourite character (other than the cat), Jiko, who gave voice to some central Buddhist concepts, like the circularity and interconnectedness of existence (I'm not phrasing this right, but I hope it makes sense) as well as the Moebius strip nature of things - up, down, same thing. Ozeki brought in the many-worlds ideas playfully too, leaving it up to the reader to determine whether such a thing was actually happening (in her story) or whether the character was imagining things. I love this stuff, it's intellectually stimulating and the ideas are fun to play with. 

Unionist

Ok, first thought.

It's primarily a story of three women and how their lives intersect. One (Ruth) is obviously the Japanese American author, removed from her New England comfort zone and transplanted to a post-hippy life on a B.C. island. Another is a 15-year-old Japanese girl transplanted from her California comfort zone back to Japan, where she faces bullying and rejection and confusion about who and where she is. And then there's the 104-year-old anarchist feminist turned Buddhist nun.

Somehow, all three help each other resolve the contradictions and turbulence and loose ends in their lives.

Not very erudite, but that's what I felt.

ETA: WHOOPS, all 3 of us posted simultaneously! Better go back and read your comments, and maybe fix mine up once I've done so LOL.

 

Caissa

I am not sure I liked Ruth at times. I put this down to her interactions with her partner who I found a more sympathetic character.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Caissa wrote:

I am not sure I liked Ruth at times. I put this down to her interactions with her partner who I found a more sympathetic character.

 

I kind of identified with her partner, not only because of his name, but also because of his affinity for Pesto. Still, I could relate to Ruth's curiosity and, well, obsession. Her experience with the "blank" pages made me think of a similar experience of my own which was not at all mystical (IMO) but was equally unsusceptible of rational explanation.

Unionist

Caissa, I had the same feeling, though felt a little guilty about feeling that way.

And it kind of highlights another aspect of the story: The role of the main male players (Ruth's partner, Nao's father, Jiko's son). We know them primarily through the perception of the women. The women come to know them more fully as the story unfolds, gradually glimpsing past initial appearances to find noble attributes that weren't obvious from the start. And in keeping with the intertwining tales, the women often help each other to find the truth about "their" men. I thought it was rather brilliantly done. I'm hesitant to go into detail, because I don't want to spoil it for Left Turn.

Caissa

It is interesting that Ozeki wrote her namesake as a not completely loveable character. I think that helped because all of the characters had to contain some warts. If Ruth was a saint that part of the book would have read differently.  This is not a book that carrying you along. It would give you temporal bumps at times.

Caissa

In many ways until we open a book, it only contains blank pages.

Caissa

I wonder if some of the female bablers would have experienced this book differently?

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

In many ways until we open a book, it only contains blank pages.

Nice!

And these days, even after I've closed a book, it often seems like blank pages.

I need to take more notes.

ETA: I just sent Ozeki a message on her web site, telling her we were discussing the book. Wish I'd thought of doing that before. Who knows, one day we might get lucky!

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

I wonder if some of the female bablers would have experienced this book differently?

My female partner turned me on to Ozeki. But she ain't no babbler. I'll see if I can wrench some comments out of her later.

By the way, there's so much rich background to the time-space uncertainty thing. I enjoyed this:

Quote:
'Quantum information is like the information of a dream,' " he said. " 'We can’t show it to others, and when we try to describe it we change the memory of it.' "

And I find that's what's happening to me when I try to comment here on what I remember from the book!

Comparing Ruth's obsessive need to know whether Nao was alive or dead with Schrödinger's Cat - stroke of genius, I thought.

Caissa

The question of who/what was alive or dead ran through the book.

Another group I belong to has a monthly book club. The book is picked in adavnce and it is discussed throughout a month. They have a different facilitator each month who posts questions around the 10th  to animate discussion while more general discussion takes place prior to that date. I wonder if something like that would be worth pursuing?

Unionist

infracaninophile wrote:

I liked the way the author adeptly juggled a realistiic approach with narrative sections that can be ambiguously interpreted. Were they magical? Were they hallucinatory? I found the author was playing with ideas - not only ideas of time, but also of reality. What is real? All this was helped along by my favourite character (other than the cat), Jiko, who gave voice to some central Buddhist concepts, like the circularity and interconnectedness of existence (I'm not phrasing this right, but I hope it makes sense) as well as the Moebius strip nature of things - up, down, same thing. Ozeki brought in the many-worlds ideas playfully too, leaving it up to the reader to determine whether such a thing was actually happening (in her story) or whether the character was imagining things. I love this stuff, it's intellectually stimulating and the ideas are fun to play with. 

Wish I'd said all that. There, now I have! I said, you said, same thing.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Power outage here. Just catching up now. I have a mundane and pointless question to ask as soon as I verify my battery sump pumps are working. flood/no flood, NOT same thing!

Unionist

All questions are pointless until you get to the point.

Waiting.

Wishing good luck on sump pump operation.

 

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Sump pumps OK.  Now, I don't want to give away any spoilers for Left Turn so will endeavour to be sufficiently vague.  However,  I have actually two questions. One is (I believe) a misprint in the text that threw me for awhile - I will come back to that one later. This one is simpler. In the PS at the end, Ruth says,  "P.S. I do have a cat,  and he's sitting on my lap, and his forehead smells of cedar trees and fresh sweet air. How did you know?"

I don't remember anywhere where Nao speculates/opines/affirms that her reader has a cat, and scratching my head, I went back and reread significant portions of Nao's part looking for it. Did I miss it? When did Nao mention her reader having a cat?

My other question (where I think I found a misprint) will require me to thumb back and find the right page, will get to that after some other tasks.

 

Unionist

infracaninophile wrote:

I don't remember anywhere where Nao speculates/opines/affirms that her reader has a cat, and scratching my head, I went back and reread significant portions of Nao's part looking for it. Did I miss it? When did Nao mention her reader having a cat?

The very beginning of the beginning of "Nao", chapter 1:

Quote:
Are you curled up with your back turned coldly toward your snoring wife, or are you eagerly waiting for your beautiful lover to finish his bath so you can make passionate love to him?

Do you have a cat and is she sitting on your lap? Does her forehead smell like cedar trees and fresh sweet air?

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Unionist wrote:

The very beginning of the beginning of "Nao", chapter 1:

Blush. I went backwards through the Nao chapters but gave up before I got to the very beginning. Big mistake. Thank you.

That statement does look somewhat prophetic, given that Ruth lives on an island with cedars abounding. Of course, that ties in with the theme that the writer, as Nao also says somewhere early on, "I reach out across time to you.... you reach back in time to me" (not exact words -- I'm paraphrasing from memory). Which I think is the reciprocal relationship of writer and reader, in many cases. It's  demonstrated literally (and metaphorically) in this story, where the reader - Ruth - also reaches back in time and influences the writer, and her world (or does she? We are left to determine that for outselves).  But one doesn't have to take it literally, if one is turned off by the many-worlds hypothesis or the quantum dynamics. Writers are influenced by their readers, if not in such dramatic ways and across tranches of time. Feedback from readers, from editors/partners to wider circles of appreciative (or not) readers does influence most writers, consciously or otherwise. It's a dynamic relationship even though it's not usually personal.

 

Hope this makes sense. I know what I mean but I flunked lit crit as I have pointed out before.

 

I like, now that I reflect on it, that the book begins and ends with reference to the cat, who is of course Pesto, and who symbolizes both death and life, and perhaps possible lives. I was worried about him until that ending. Which end of Schrodinger's box would be open?

 

I found the passage I thought was a misprint, and it's not, but it's puzzling (to me) so I will elaborate on it in a separate post.

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Before I get to my other passage (which has to do with the timeline of events), what do you guys make of the fact that though Nao's part of the story is told in the first person, Ruth's is not. I'm sure this is significant, but of what?  

Unionist

Ok, Left Turn, stop reading this thread, NOW! Spoilers ahead.

infracaninophile wrote:
It's  demonstrated literally (and metaphorically) in this story, where the reader - Ruth - also reaches back in time and influences the writer, and her world (or does she? We are left to determine that for outselves).  But one doesn't have to take it literally, if one is turned off by the many-worlds hypothesis or the quantum dynamics.

Oh but yes, Ruth reaches back and influences Nao - strongly - the way I see, she saves Nao's life! On (or about) page 347 is her dream sequence where she meets Nao's father and discloses to the idiot that his daughter is on her way to see Jiko, and is actively considering suicide. That's a big turning point, no?

 

 

infracaninophile infracaninophile's picture

Unionist wrote:

Ok, Left Turn, stop reading this thread, NOW! Spoilers ahead.

 On (or about) page 347 is her dream sequence where she meets Nao's father and discloses to the idiot that his daughter is on her way to see Jiko, and is actively considering suicide. That's a big turning point, no?

 

Let me go back and read that again, in context. I admit to getting a bit confused re the dream sequences et alia as to what Ruth imagined and what may have actually happened (or both). 

Unionist

It all gets weird at the end. Jiko (in her Jungle Crow manifestation) leads Ruth to the park bench where she finds Nao's father. This meeting ultimately changes everything in the lives of Nao and Harry - the end of the drive to suicide, the discovery that Haruki #1 died in a heroic anti-war act instead of as simple cannon fodder in an inter-imperialist war, the discovery that Harry also lost his Silicon Valley job in a heroic anti-war act instead of as simple cannon fodder for the dot-com bubble burst, Nao and Harry learning to appreciate and admire each other. Jiko directly influenced the "no suicide" turn by penning one character on her deathbed: "To live". Ruth also put the secret French diary in the funeral box (or at least she dreamt she did), a very direct intervention that disclosed Haruki #1's suffering and ultimate heroism. Ruth arguably intervened (who knows how) in Nao's life by "discovering" new words on what previously had looked like blank pages - reader and writer, actor and spectator, all the same.

And most importantly of all - Jiko (aka the Jungle Crow) led Oliver and Ruth to the badly wounded but still living cat. Schrödinger's cat! Alive. Dead. All the same.

It's beautiful. I'll be reading it again. Maybe there will be more pages next time.

 

Unionist

Left Turn wrote:

I'm enjoying Nao's story, and I'm looking forwards to where it goes in the second half of the book. I really like the uniqueness of Nao's story.

Ruth's story I'm not enjoying as much. I generally like it when writers put more of themselves into their work, as Ruth Ozeki seems to be doing with Ruth's story; yet the narrative function of Ruth's story seems to be mainly as a framing device for Nao's story.

Don't know if you've had a chance to finish, but am interested to learn what your take is given on how these stories unfolded.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Unionist wrote:

Left Turn wrote:

I'm enjoying Nao's story, and I'm looking forwards to where it goes in the second half of the book. I really like the uniqueness of Nao's story.

Ruth's story I'm not enjoying as much. I generally like it when writers put more of themselves into their work, as Ruth Ozeki seems to be doing with Ruth's story; yet the narrative function of Ruth's story seems to be mainly as a framing device for Nao's story.

Don't know if you've had a chance to finish, but am interested to learn what your take is given on how these stories unfolded.

I'm curently at page 230, so don't have a take on the ending yet.

I went ahead and read your spoilers despite your warning; I figured there might be something there that would inspire me to keep reading the book, and I think there is.

Unionist

Left Turn wrote:

I went ahead and read your spoilers despite your warning; I figured there might be something there that would inspire me to keep reading the book, and I think there is.

Next time I'll have to write my warning in larger font LOL!

But I'm glad you're still reading. Looking forward to your impressions.

sherpa-finn

Transitioning from another thread ....

Unionist wrote:

sherpa-finn wrote:

Gracious. Do we have a basic literacy problem here?

I think so. We reactivated the babble book club, but you haven't participated. I'm absolutely certain you were able to read at one point, and I'm saddened that you appear to have lost the capacity. Come back and visit us, and get into the discussion about Ruth Ozeki's novel. It will prove a refreshing break from the reality that seems to have you so worked up. Kick up your feet and relax!

You are too kind, Unionist - ever the dedicated Babble facilitator!

This is likely TMI, - but my personal circumstances have changed somewhat since the Book Club was last active. Firstly, I took early retirement and must now live with the commensurate reduction in household income. Secondly, I moved back Down East, - and in culling our creaking bookshelves before the move, discovered that I had a 100 or so titles in hand that remained wholly unread.

So my New Year's Resolution for 2016 was/is to work my way through the unread books, avoid buying any new books, - and otherwise rely on the wonderful new public library in Halifax for additional reading.  Bottom-line: there are still a couple of names ahead of mine on the waiting list for "A Tale for the Time Being". 

But rest assured that I do lurk quietly on the BBC thread ... and if prodded too actively will happily contribute totally uninformed opinions. As I readily do elsewhere - even without prodding. 

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I finally finished reading the book. Yay me!

On the whole, I really enjoyed enjoyed it. Ruth Ozeki is clearly someone with very feminist and anti-war politics. Ruth portrays characters who are flawed, including a flawed character of herself. This is a story in whch the father looses his job and becomes depressed, and the family is supported for a time by the mother being the main breadwinner. The character of Jiko is a wise, old woman, with anarchist and pacifist politics. Definitely not the sor of character we see much of in Hollywood movies. And both Nao's father and Haruki #1 turned out to be characters who took courageous pacifist stands.

I definitely found that the pacing slow, particularly Ruth's story. Nao's story had enough going on to keep me interested, but it seemed to take forever for Ruth's story to reach the point where it engaged me. For the longest time I struggled to maintain interest when it shifted back to Ruth's story; only when Ruth's story started to have more of a connection to Nao's story than Ruth simply reading the diary was I able to see it as anything other than a distraction.

I really liked finding out that Nao's father had lost his job in a heroic act of antiwar resistance, rather than just as a result of the dot com bubble burst; and that Haruki #1 chose to crash his plane into the ocean rather than into an enemy ship. Nao's story of quiting school as a result of bullying, and becoming a prostitute, was really reveting; was glad though that Nao and her father chose not to commit suicide, and that Nao's father was able to develop his computer program for erasing people's online presence.

Not sure how I feel about Ruth's dream where she meets Nao's father and tells him that Nao is going to commit suicide. I don't know if this was the best way for Ruth and Nao's stories to get connected. I kinda wish there had been some other explanation for Nao's father having found out that Nao had gone back to Jiko's temple, and that Nao was planning to commit suicide.

As much as I enjoyed then book in the end, I guess I feel this way because my expectation going in were not really met. As I previously said, based on the descriptions I saw online before I started reading, I thought that Ruth's story would involve her travelling to Japan to find Nao (not just meeting Nao's father in a dream) and give her back her diary.

I found that the use o multiple universe theory at the end of the book seemed a bit contrived. The part of the story with the blank pages of the diary, the dream sequence, and then the reappearance of words on the blank pages of the diary, took the story out of the realm of realism and into the realm of science fiction, even though the book doesn't otherwise feel like a science fiction book.

On the whole, I'd highly recommend this book, with the caveat that the pacing is very slow.

Caissa

Parts of the book fell into to the magical realism genre. Yes, the book was slow and ponderous at times. The way I end up reading 100 + books a year is that I just plow ahead when I encounter slow and ponderous text.

Unionist

Left Turn wrote:

I finally finished reading the book. Yay me!

Thanks for coming back to comment, LT!

Quote:
... only when Ruth's story started to have more of a connection to Nao's story than Ruth simply reading the diary was I able to see it as anything other than a distraction...

Not sure how I feel about Ruth's dream where she meets Nao's father and tells him that Nao is going to commit suicide. I don't know if this was the best way for Ruth and Nao's stories to get connected. I kinda wish there had been some other explanation for Nao's father having found out that Nao had gone back to Jiko's temple, and that Nao was planning to commit suicide.

[...]

The part of the story with the blank pages of the diary, the dream sequence, and then the reappearance of words on the blank pages of the diary, took the story out of the realm of realism and into the realm of science fiction, even though the book doesn't otherwise feel like a science fiction book.

Ok. My take on all this is rather radically different - though I confess it took a while before the realization dawned on me.

There's no science fiction. There's no magical realism. The story is about Ruth. The Ruth of the book, and Ruth Ozeki, the author - one and the same. Nao's story is written by Ruth - both Ruths. Nao doesn't "exist" separately from Ruth. That's why there are blank pages, and changed words, and deus ex machina type interventions in Nao's story. Because Nao's story is all fiction, sprung from Ruth's head - Ruth, who is experiencing cultural loss and displacement, and creates an alter ego (Nao) who also experiences loss and learns to cope with it.

I'll stop there. That's my "revelation". I wish I could write well enough to spin it into a full analysis of the plot twists and turns. But the bottom line is this: I love this book and have never seen another which quite fits this model. I should go off and read the reviews, and see if anyone agrees with my "take".

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Am in. p 82/403 so far. Will not read spoilers. Thanks to all for posting this thread as I'm enjoying some more fiction for a change.

supplemental: CBC News: 40 tonnes of garbage pulled from Vancouver Island beaches

Check for diaries.

Unionist

Welcome aboard, ikosmos!

Would love to hear your take on this book once you're finished.

And I guess I'll have to suggest another title soon, unless someone else does.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Well, so far, it's like a story written by a sister I never met. Very enjoyable. Every reference I know, every sidebar is familiar, or an unfinished part of me.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

p. 200 or thereabouts. The unmistakable female voice of the author is a bit like the old, Zen nun whispering, if saying anthing at all, to her great grand-daughter. It's a great voice. Like everyone's grandmother.

Am slowing down now. Don't want to finish, and all that.

Fortunately, Arundhati Roy has a new book out. From one great female voice to another will be just fine.

Unionist

Great comments, ikosmos. And moving. Our discussions will benefit from your perspective. And now time to recommend another book! Hmmm...

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Ok, fin. Finished. Well, other than the Appendices.

1. I guess I will start with that. The author really knows her Zen, from the inside, and she weaves Dogen, practice, etc. seamlessly into the novel. The book is a good read for that reason alone. It's rather like a pointing finger, for those of you who know. And, more broadly, despite the "un-Japanese" attribute that some of her characters lay on each other, and therefore on the author as well, this book is a kind of gentle education in aspects of Japanese culture.

So you can learn something from this book.

2. "Books end. Why was she surprised?" (p. 392) The author does a rather magnificent elaboration that lives, too, end. In fact, her description of the last breath of a character, or two, is so profound that I found myself imagining my own, last breath.

No one's ever done that before. I may just remember this book, among other things I suppose, with my own last breath.

Good enough for ya?

3. There's a nice SF attribute to the book. Some good complexity. This overlaps with the author managing to draw the reader's attention to the relationship between them; writer and audience, not often the sort of sidelong talking to the camera that can be annoying, looked at in a thoughtful way. Gets you thinking about it. Caissa remarked, upthread, that "In many ways until we open a book, it only contains blank pages". We could also express that, equivalently, by saying that the reader invents the story.

Perhaps this is part of Ruth's message as author [in writing this book]? Just a thought. :)

4. So I will finish by saying that it is probably worth reading again. I don't like to dwell on certain details of a novel with the first go through. The author has to accomplish something, or I'm not interested. And she does that.

Now I will go back and read the comments of the rest of you, spoilers and all.

OK, done. Nothing to add. Something to add. It's all the same. lol.

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

I wrote:
3. There's a nice SF attribute to the book. Some good complexity. This overlaps with the author managing to draw the reader's attention to the relationship between them; writer and audience, not often the sort of sidelong talking to the camera that can be annoying, looked at in a thoughtful way. Gets you thinking about it. Caissa remarked, upthread, that "In many ways until we open a book, it only contains blank pages". We could also express that, equivalently, by saying that the reader invents the story.

Perhaps this is part of Ruth's message as author [in writing this book]? Just a thought. :)

More details here. The reader re-invents the story each time she reads the book. And it's patently true, at least with a book that has some substance, that it's a little different each time. In fact, that's a kind of measure of a "good" book. That's partly why we would read more than once.

Given the way the author wrote this book, with the interesting and SF-like relationship between the characters, it's a little like Ursala Le Guin's "The Lathe of Heaven" with it's strange, mind-bending possibilities of time, causality, etc.

Good authors can jump genres and show us new stuff, new combinations, new possibilities. To some degree, this is what Ozeki has done.

Caissa

Anybody up for another book in the new year?

Unionist

Wow - only noticed ikosmos's last two posts just now! Got to absorb those before we get to the next book. But YES, we need another book! Any suggestions, Caissa?

 

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