Kazuo Ishiguro, noted author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, recently released a selection of short stories entitled Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. Nocturnes are evocative and light instrumental pieces often performed in the evening. In this new publication, nocturnes do seem to reflect the true nature of Ishiguro’s stories which are evocative yet also somewhat insubstantial. They linger awhile in your mind, but do not deeply resonate. Perhaps that is the author’s intention.
For the most part, these stories are relayed in a casual manner, almost as if the narrator of each were telling us a light bedtime story or recollecting past histories over a glass of wine. Many of the stories make good use of humor and irony, particularly Nocturne and Crooner, and Come Rain or Come Shine is playfully farcical. That is not to say that they don’t have a moodiness or a message to them. The characters, all involved with music in some way, are often self-deluded and self-centered (maybe the two go together) but Ishiguro never asks the reader to dwell too deeply on their travails. These are, afterall, literary nocturnes.
Review by Evelyn Fischel