Nocturnes – Kazuo Ishiguro

September 14, 2009 § 10 Comments


This is my second Ishiguro book, and I must say that I’m hooked. I don’t usually get sucked into short stories, simply because they almost always don’t have that extra bit that pulls me in. This collection, however, has changed that.

As it says on the cover of the book, Nocturnes is a collection of five stories of music and nightfall. Just this description alone is enough to evoke a certain romanticism for me. The mood created here is almost like the balance of scales; there has to be just enough of everything to be perfect, otherwise it falls out of balance, tips over, and loses the magic it could have had.

Ishiguro managed this balance like a pro.

Perhaps the most memorable story for me was the first one, Crooner. The story was set in Venice, and immediately, there is a certain aura that comes with it. Just close your eyes for a moment and conjure the image of a gondola floating silently on a quiet night, then listen as the soothing sounds of a guitar slowly fill up the air around you, penetrating into your very heart and soul, touching your very essence of being. Just see in your mind’s eye the picture of a man singing in a deep voice, filled with passion and love; and look up to see a woman by the window of her room, the receiver of this romantic performance.

If you can see that, then maybe you can see how I felt when I was reading the book. It felt like I was there, both as audience and performer. I was on stage and off stage, I was singing and being sung to.

There is a silent beauty to the way the story was told. It’s the kind of feeling you get when you see this quietly elegant lady walk into the room, wearing that simple black dress, but grabbing the attention of everyone in the room without purposely intending to do so.


The common thread throughout the five stories were not only in terms of music and nightfall. There was also the same train of sadness, the slight tinge of regret, a soft touch of melancholy to be found in all of them, perhaps some more than others. But when we think of it, these emotions and feelings are also the ones that are the easiest to be evoked from music and nightfall.

There is a certain kind of loneliness that nightfall presents, and yet it is the kind of loneliness where one is almost comfortable with. And music brings out this magic so well.


Rating: 5


§ 10 Responses to Nocturnes – Kazuo Ishiguro

  • Tony says:

    Definitely on my to-read (and buy) list; waiting for it to come out in small version though. ‘Nocturnes’ just sounds Ishiguro-esque, doesn’t it? 😉

  • su says:

    @ Tony: It does sound rather Ishiguro-esque, now that you mention it. The title just seduced me right from the word ‘go’.

  • Nadia says:

    Great post! Can’t wait to get this book. So many people raving about it and I can’t blame them – Ishiguro is a brilliant writer!

  • Bellezza says:

    I love your descriptions here; you really created a mood within your post. I also like your comparison to music, in particular the scale where everything has to be in perfect balance. I can’t wait for my own copy to arrive! (Can you imagine anything better than being in Venice? I’d like to be there now!)

  • Susan says:

    I agree with Bellezza, your descriptions are wonderful. I may need to get this collection of short stories. Thanks for a terrific review!

  • I love this review, and I’m convinced I should add this to my TBR, specially with the Japanese Lit Challenge. Not read an Ishiguro for ages as well…

  • Mark David says:

    You’re evocative in your own review, as always, Michelle. The words “music and nightfall” in the cover also caught my attention when I first saw it on another blog. And like you, those two words also made me think about sadness, which for some reason is easily associated with the two, especially “nightfall.” Oh I really want to read this book now! Thanks for the splendid review (hmm… “splendid” is a word I should have thought of many times while writing my own reviews, but it’s in reading your review that I remembered to use it)

  • su says:

    @ Nadia: Thanks. There are actually some rather contradicting views on this book, though.

    @ Bellezza: Glad you liked my post. And I would love to be in Venice right now too!

    @ Susan: Thanks to you too, for visiting and leaving a comment.

    @ anothercookie: Aren’t our TBR lists growing and growing?

    @ Mark David: There is just a certain connection between sadness and nightfall, isn’t there? I’m glad you liked my thoughts on the book, and I hope that when you do find and read the book, you’d enjoy it as much as I did.

  • mee says:

    I’m never really into short stories too, but I loved Ishiguro, so I may just enjoy this book. Loved your review!

  • su says:

    @ mee: I hope you really do enjoy it. It’s a lovely book.

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