Los Inconsolables

Los Inconsolables

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Ryder, un famoso pianista, llega a una ciudad de provincias en algun lugar de Europa central. Sus habitantes adoran la musica y creen haber descubierto que quienes antes satisfacian esta pasion eran impostores. Ryder es recibido como el salvador y en un concierto apoteosico, para el que todos se estan preparando, debera reconducirlos por el camino del arte y la verdad. Pero el pianista descubrira muy pronto que de un salvador siempre se espera mucho mas de lo que puede dar y que los habitantes de aquella ciudad esconden oscuras culpas, antiguas heridas jamas cerradas, y tambien demandas insaciables.

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Los Inconsolables
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Have you ever had one of

Have you ever had one of those dreams where you are trying to get somewhere but things keep going wrong? You get on the wrong train, get off and go back in the other direction but it takes you somewhere else, then start walking but the streets don't go where they're supposed to? I've had those, mostly at times of stress, when I had a lot on my mind and my life felt out of control. This book is one of those dreams, described in detail for 500 pages. It sounds like a nightmare, quite literally. I think in most authors' hands, it would be. But Kazuo Ishiguro is a natural storyteller and somehow he pulls it off. In many of his books, things are left unsaid or unexplained. His narrative style is subtle and understated. He's the perfect person to write this kind of book. The main character is a famous concert pianist called Ryder who arrives in an unspecified town somewhere in central Europe to give a recital. The book covers the three days of his stay in the town. As he stays, more demands are made on him, demands that he can never seem to satisfy. He never has enough time, he is always late, always tired, always disappointing people. His life feels out of control. One thing I liked was that it was never made obvious that it was a dream. Nothing really outlandish happened - the narrator didn't suddenly start flying across rooftops (another mainstay of my dreams) or confronting big green monsters or anything like that. The effect of a dream was created through confused logic - events narrated as if they made sense, but with a big contradiction in them. For example, an old porter who carries his luggage at the hotel talks about his daughter and grandson. He's worried about them and wants Ryder to go and meet them. When Ryder does meet them, the daughter is now his wife or at least lover. The contradiction is maintained through the book and never explained logically. At several times, simple geography is distorted. Ryder goes all the way across town to a party at a country house, and then when he wants to go back to the hotel he discovers that he is actually already back there - he just came in by a different entrance and didn't recognise it. A ticket inspector on a tram turns out to be an old childhood friend from England. Like everyone else, she expects a lot from him and he lets her down. I realise that it probably still sounds like a nightmare of a book. It's hard to explain quite why I liked it. I suppose the premise was so difficult that it was good to see Ishiguro pull it off so artfully. There were also a lot of interesting subplots about the people in the town - an alcoholic old conductor, Brodsky, who's trying to resurrect his career and win back his wife; a hotel owner Hoffman and his son who wants to be a pianist but only disappoints his parents; Ryder's relationship with Sophie and the boy Boris; the old porter Gustav and his friends who meet in the Hungarian Cafe. I was interested in these people partly for themselves, and partly because if the whole thing is a dream, then they are clues to the dreamer's personality: figures from his past, people he feels guilty about treating badly, or perhaps different incarnations of himself at various points in his life. Despite all the good points, the book did feel very long after a while - the action is deliberately repetitive and circular, and I thought that it could have been shortened quite significantly without losing much of the overall meaning of the book. But I still felt compelled to read on, even though I knew really where it was all going. And at the end of it all, I had that warm feeling of satisfaction that comes from having read a really good book.

Ryder arrives in town and

Ryder arrives in town and steps into a hotel, ready to check in. And that's the last ordinary thing that happens in The Unconsoled. Ishiguro's narrative gradually descends into something other than reality. First, it's subtle: Ryder seems oddly patient as the hotel bellhop gives an extended monologue about himself and the respect (or lack thereof) accorded to his profession. Time seems to move in fits and starts, as characters whose concerns seem only incidental to the central plot (which surely must be developing by now) elaborate at length about their lives. Ryder attempts to navigate through his day in a linear fashion -- after all, he's a very important person, a celebrity even, in town to prepare for a very important speech and performance -- but distraction piles upon diversion piles upon impediment, as the day and night stretch on.As Ryder experiences the people and events around him, mostly being pulled along, the narrative feels like a dream. Amazingly so, actually. Ishiguro captures the feeling of those anxiety dreams in which we know we have to be somewhere, do something, but there's no straight path between here and there, we can't seem to get there, and can't seem to keep our minds on it...I kept expecting to lose patience with The Unconsoled -- after all, how much of this unreality can one take before a certain longing takes hold for a linear plot, a sense of progression, of our protagonist actually doing things instead of having things done to him? Yet I found myself enjoying the book. I don't pretend to know what the author's intentions were, but by the end I was reflecting on this world full of people and how our lives intersect, each of us moving according to our own interests, desires and whims. What if we wore all those internal motivations on our sleeves, and explained them at great length? What if everyone did that, except for one poor visitor from some far away place?At the same time, Ishiguro seems to have had in mind a meditation on the nature of fame and celebrity. Ryder's reality and his very nature seem mutable, defined by the preconceptions of those around him, changing with each new encounter. What is left of Ryder but the public perception of the man?And there you have The Unconsoled. Twisting, dreamlike, frustrating, and ultimately, strangely rewarding.

Ryder is a concert pianis

Ryder is a concert pianist who arrives in an unnamed Central European city for an important concert. His experiences have a dream-like quality - geography seems distorted, he overhears conversations he shouldn't be able to hear, and he knows things about characters he's supposedly just met, who may or may not be experiencing life events that parallel some of the experiences of his own life. Everyone he meets seems to want something from him, and he becomes increasingly anxious about his own concerns, and yet continues trying to fulfil the expectations of everyone around him. I felt like I should have liked this more than I did. It had the same wonderfully understated and ambiguous tone as Ishiguro's other books, the same concerns about unreliable narrators, and the fallibility of memory. Each dream-like scene on its own was delightfully readable. And yet when put together, I unfortunately just found this novel hard-going, overly long, and difficult to persist with.

A horrible, haunting, wor

A horrible, haunting, work of genius, this book isn't right, isn't normal, and I'm sure it will stay with me forever. Let me try to explain. The book is halfway between a dream (or nightmare) and reality. It's the story of a composer arriving at in a town, having to give a performance that will rejuvinate the town, although he doesn't know where he is or when he agreed to it. That may make is sound like a mystery book of some sort, and I guess it is to some degree. The problem is that world is just not quite right. This is pretty hard to explain - it's a long, slow book. It's not quite surreal, but in that general ballpark, but it's pretty unique - you really have to read it to get the full picture. Some examples - doors connect to rooms even though they can't really be connected, relationships don't follow any logic, nightmare things happen (he exposes himself whilst giving a speech and nobody minds). I'm guessing I haven't really conveyed the essence of this book at all. Let me just say again that it is utterly unique, engaging, and yet left me feeling really horrible. Why is that a recommendation (it is intended as such)? Because sure the purpose of art is to make you feel - thats why, and surely it doesn't always have to be nice.

An unusually different bo

An unusually different book, "The Unconsoled" is one prolonged dream. It takes place entirely in the mind of the narrator Ryder, a pianist visiting an un-named European city. That said, nothing is certain, not Ryder's true identity, or who his family members are. The world Ishiguro creates is soft and malleable, Ryder travels large distances by tram or car to get to his assignations, only to find a previously unseen doorway leading straight back to his hotel. The densely populated town of his dreams has a deep need for a musical saviour and lauds him with respect. Ryder's huge ego is evident, he seems certain of himself, but he appears perpetually lost, late for an appointment, and in need of rest. The idea that many of the characters are in fact Ryder himself at different points in his life could be helpful in understanding it. There is no doubt about it, this is a difficult book, not everyone will like it. If you like Kafka's 'The Castle', then you will probably enjoy it. I think it's brilliant, unconventional and a fascinating portrait of the inner mind. And fans of Ishiguro will find many parallels to his other works. Also it shows the authors very subtle sense of humour.
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