Nocturnes by Kazou Ishiguro, 220 pages
Published in '09, released May 5, 2009
Five stories of Music and Nightfall
The subtitle was my first clue that nocturne might have more than one meaning. I knew it meant 'night', but it also means 'a musical composition that is inspired by, or evocative of, the night.' Thanks wikipedia. The five stories are all of a similar theme, and round back on themselves with characters or settings, all connected to music.
Ishiguro wrote these five short stories as a set, meant to go together but not one complete novel. (I learned from this Guardian article) They are all different, told from a first person narrator, but there are some similarities. Most have musicians that have not achieved success, yet. (and it's never their fault)
I liked the stories set in Venice, because they reminded me of my visit there and was easily transported to San Marco square. "Crooner" and "Cellists" show musicians at the beginning of their careers meeting seasoned performers who aren't exactly what they seem."Malvern Hills" has an out of work musician taking refuge in the hills with his sister who expects him to work for his room and board, and who defines the concept of an idealized musician who won't sacrifice his musical integrity for anything.
I don't think summarizing the stories helps much in a short story review. Overall, the stories were readable and the more I think about them, the more connections I can make between the plots and characters. Is it a coincidence that a sonata is divided into five sections - introduction, exposition, development, recapitulation, coda? With well defined rules of repetition and spiraling of themes? I don't think so, Ishiguro is too good for that to be a coincidence. And that's where it ends, because I like his writing, he takes me right into the tale, with his unreliable narrators that make you look at what they say with a jaundiced eye, so that as the reader, I am sceptical of the characters and their tales of woe. I like reading his stories because they make me think.