A Tale For The Time Being.


I don’t quite remember what made me buy this book and when. It has been on the top of the list of the books unread on my kindle and finally I got round to reading it a few days ago. That it took me more than a day or two should tell my readers what a slow read that it makes. It is very heavy going from the word go and the plot unfolds in a leisurely fashion. For someone used to faster paced books, this was literally a drag. I can’t really figure out as to how this got to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

For all that, it is a book worth reading for its very unusualness. I have never read anything like this by any other author. The toing and froing of the two leading characters not only in the reading but also in the time frame of now and in the past, makes for a different than usual normal reading experience. The strangeness is not just in the flashback technique used but in the surreal presentation of the unfolding of the story.

The character portrayals of all the people who appear and disappear in the story is handled well as is the description of the crow whose presence is a very important part of the narrative. The Japanese culture juxtaposed with an American influence on a teenager is handled very well and that keeps the interest in the story alive till the whole story is resolved. Throwing in Tsunami, Zen Buddhism, The Schrodinger’s cat and Quantum Physics gives it a quaint twist too.

If you like serious reading in the fiction genre, this book will appeal to you.

11 thoughts on “A Tale For The Time Being.”

    1. The story is itself quite simple. It is simply presented in a convoluted way. Since I was reading it on a Kindle, there was another problem of not being able to go to the inline citation for the many Japanese words used in the book.

  1. On a different angle, Ramana. You say “That it took me more than a day or two should tell my readers what a slow read it makes.”

    Let’s leave aside that you don’t give a clue as to how many actual hours are involved in your average day’s reading, let’s spare a thought for the plight of any writer/author. And my heart bleeds for them. What a reader devours in (relatively speaking) zero time the author will have slaved over for ages, with both their pens and fingertips bleeding.

    Don’t you think it a strange imbalance between input of effort and consumption? Obviously, one can say this about many of our efforts, and one which comes to mind, and I may have mentioned before, when, say, you cook a meal (doesn’t even have to that elaborate) and the whole thing polished off in a fraction of the time it took you to make it.

    The above one of the reasons certain writers make me smile so much. Who has ever finished James Joyce’s “Ulysses”? And if Proust had given any thought to it how very amused he’d have been that his “In search of lost time”(!) will exercise his readers (and their patience) more than writing it did him.

    Ursula recently posted..Running on empty

    1. You are absolutely right Ursula when it comes to the output / consumption equation in reading books. The writer knows fully well that the buyer of his work buys it to read for entertainment of one kind or another. I spend on an average, four hours a day reading and I think that I got my bang for the buck if I can finish reading a book in the fiction genre, in about fifteen hours.

  2. Our book club read this book earlier this year. I enjoy stories that don’t always unfold in linear fashion. Flashbacks or the form of this story did appeal to me eventually, but it took a while before I could really “get into” it. The book had rather mixed reactions from the readers in our group. Overall I enjoyed it and more than I thought I might initially as the synopsis was such this was a book I would not have recommended our group read. The individual who did put forth this book on our list volunteers at the local library and had more familiarity with reactions from readers there.

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