Title: A Tale For The Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Voice Actor: Ruth Ozeki
Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee (2013), National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee for Fiction (2013), Goodreads Choice Nominee for Fiction (2013), The Kitschies for Red Tentacle (Novel) (2013), Paris Review Best of the Best (2013)
Finished Reading: June 18, 2014
About: “In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao plans to document the life of her great-grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace – and it will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine.
Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox – possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and unknown fate and forward into her own future.
Full of Ozeki’s signature humor. A Tale For The Time Being is brilliantly inventive, beguiling story of our shared humanity and the search for home.”
I picked up this book, not because I’m super into the Japanese culture but, because it was recommended to me by a friend. I was told I would enjoy this because it has a stream of consciousness feel. Being a fan of Faulkner, Stein, and Morrison, I was all game. I also noticed the ratings on goodreads were pretty high, so why not?! I got this one as an audio because the voice actor is the author. I like when this happens because the author is able to perform her or his own words exactly how she or he imagined them. Excellent (said like Wayne from Wayne’s World).
We have two main characters: Nao and Ruth.
Nao: is a 16 year old living in Japan. She was raised in Sunnyvale California, but had to move to Japan because her father’s business endeavor’s fell through. She is deeply depressed and ready to just stop being, but needs to write everything down first. Sitting in a French maid cafe, she writes in a beat-up looking journal in the hopes that someone will someday find her words and her story.
Ruth: is a one-time novelist and working on her second. She’s up in Canada with her husband and their cat. She is looking for the words to put down, while also trying to find herself and her path. When she finds Nao’s diary, watch, old letters, and lunchbox, she becomes emotionally involved and sucked into Nao’s life.
- Brilliantly dark. Ozeki’s humor is ever-present, even when dealing with tougher topics.
- Two narrators. This can be either a horrible or genius attempt. Ozeki nailed it. Both characters had completely separate voices and mannerisms.
- Idea of the past and present communicating. Nao writes questions directly for the reader of her novel. Ruth is invested in Nao’s book and her life and sometimes forgets things have already happened. It’s very Faulkner. The idea of the past not really being dead – ever. Playing around with time as a theme is constant in this book.
- Stream of consciousness. Nao’s writing is filled with tangents, long sentences, and ramblings much like a 16-year-old would have. Being a fan of this already, I applaud Ozeki for being able to get into the mindset of a teen.
- Ruth and her husband read the journal together. It’s nice hearing different perspectives on what is going on in Nao’s journal. It gives a basis of realism. They sort of fill in the blanks with their supposing
- There’s a ton of character growth!
- There are a lot of different themes being tackled.
- Ozeki lost me toward the second half of part three. I didn’t really understand what was going on. This isn’t a musical – you can’t just throw in a dream sequence and expect me to be A-OK with it.
- There’s probably a deeper meaning to the end of Nao’s journal, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Not digging this part.
- Quantum Physics. It was explained for a bit. How there’s alternate worlds and each decision you make splits off into another world. It’s a great concept and very well done in Crichton’s Timeline, but not so much here.
Rating and why: I give it three stars. While I was definitely turned off toward the end of the book, I enjoyed the rest of it. I think the concept is really cool and I could see where Ozeki was going with different aspects, but they just weren’t done as well as previous authors (Crichton, Faulkner, etc).
What do you think? Have you read anything by Ozeki before? What’s your take on different narrators or stream of consciousness? Let me know in the comments below and let’s keep the conversation going! Like. Comment. Follow. A new book review to come out next Monday.
Until next time my fellow bibliophiles!