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Readers` Reviews

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mohammad sarshar
As one the store reviewer said, this book is like the nightmare you can't rouse yourself from. Ryder, the principal character, arrives in a town he recognizes--or maybe doesn't--for an event he can't quite recall having committed to. He meets the butler in the hotel, who is also his father-in-law--or at least the father of the woman who may or may not be his wife. This pattern is repeated over and over, as Ryder constantly finds himself praised for doing nothing, or criticized for breaking commitments he doesn't know he's made. Ishiguro creates an atmosphere of anxiety by drawing on the standard stuff of common dreams--showing up at a public event in pajamas, or driving endlessly along dark roads only to end up where one started.

"When We Were Orphans" had this same surreal quality, but it built up over time until with a start the reader realizes he or she is really in the middle of a nightmare; that novel was also firmly grounded--at least at first--in a time and place. In "Unconsoled" the gloom never lifts.

Readers here praise Ishiguro's portrait of modern man, but it's far too bleak for me. Love and happiness are real, even in the 21st century, but not in Ryder's world. Stylistically the book is compelling, but the story was too tough for me.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
melike aydin
As I don't normally see my nightmares through while I'm sleeping, I found myself frequently shelving this novel. However, just as our nightmares have a curious tendency to provoke us to analyze them, I found myself returning to read, much as I would meet again with a difficult and complex friend. You know, the friend that you see only rarely because they leave you feeling unsettled, agitated.
One almost has to review this novel from two perspectives. In order for a review to be of any use to readers (and not full of self-effacing grad school twaddle), the review should compare the experience of reading this novel to others.
If you are looking for the so-called good read (subjective) run as fast as you can from this novel. It does not fit within the traditionalist rubrik. The story itself is not in the action of the novel but the exercise of writing it. The action is not rooted in any town we would recognize (as in dreams). There are no foreign language problems to cope with (also as in dreams at times). And the thread of the story meanders and corkscrews as the protagonist's relationship skews with the other actors. In that sense, it is utterly unreadable if you are expecting fiction of the calibre of Remains of the Day.
However, as a literary exercise, it is as much a feast for the intellect as any Pynchon or Joyce novel. The imagery and action appear to take one through a panic dream in the vehicle of the most comatose and unpretentious international musical performers I have ever encountered in fiction or reality. <Next sentence for the frustrated grad student>. The main character, Ryder, appears to float in the epipelagic zone of sleep, where one is most susceptible to suggestion but is infused with memories that can't be atributed to either reality or the world of dreams one just left. As such, Ryder is the reader's consul in the foreign land of the absurd or unreal.
I found myself drawn to this often funny, more often frustrating literary experience...kind of like that person you really want to date but would never marry. In any case, the novel provokes, titillates, and stimulates. And it certainly elicits reactions in a manner that fiction almost always fails to do. And the next time I go to a reception in my pajamas, I will stand on a chair and deliver this review to all and sundry.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shannana
When I finished this book I threw it across the room, I was so frustrated and angry. What the hell was that all about? It was months later I realised what a masterpiece it was.

While it didn't give me what I have come to expect from 'a good book' , it really got under my skin and gave me a different experience of reading and it is that I enjoyed immensely.

This is not a book to take on holiday or to read for relaxation and escapism. Kazuo Ishiguro keeps you on edge, hoping for some kind of resolution. I wanted answers, I wanted guarantees that the main character gets to his piano concert. You don't get them and you are led like an anxious dreamer into endless interesting yet impossible scenarios that take the main character further and further from where he should be.

At the time it is very frustrating, later you realise how accustomed you are to the rhythms of conventional storytelling. My thoughts have returned to this remarkable book on a regular basis. The reader is really the unconsoled of the title and reflection over time is soothing.
The Unofficial Book of Hobbit Cookery - An Unexpected Cookbook :: An Unexpected Journey) - Art & Design (Hobbit :: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith :: The Battle of the Five Armies Visual Companion - The Hobbit :: Never Let You Go: A Novel
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
lydia robinson
It's been a while since I've read the book, but I was just thinking about it for no other reason than the fact that it's one of my favorite novels. When I've sat down to write a novel-- unfortunately rarely finishing-- this is the one that influences me most. So I decided to glance at a few of the reviews here, finding just what I expected to find-- people whose experience of it was entirely different from mine.

From the first couple of pages I was entirely delighted. I love movies and books where things are off just a bit-- subtly enough that it takes a while to realize it. But I tend to take works of fiction on their own terms. (I suspect it has to do with the P in INFP, for all those Meyers-Briggs fans.) It really rubs me the wrong way to come out of a movie theater and to overhear someone say, "Well that was really weird." That's such an irrelevant comment. Was the movie good? Was it good weird or bad weird? Those who say Alice in Wonderland (the book) was a little too weird for them didn't really enter into it. It's the same dynamic with those who can only judge past eras by today's framework.

So no, The Unconsoled isn't neccessarily a frustrating or difficult book at all. The difficulty is in the reader's approach.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
ariel collins
It's hard to believe these two books were written by the same author, so different are they. In The Unconsoled, Ishiguro presents us with Ryder, a prominent concert pianist who is oddly detached from not only life but also his own past. A young woman he offers to advise might have been an old lover, but he seems to only vaguely recall snippets of a possible past relationship. Not only that, she has a child, and it just might be his. This is almost a surreal novel, but for all its dreaminess, it's lyrical, addictive, and compelling.
But I prefer my reading to be a little more grounded in reality; I liked Remains of the Day better.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
nanaly
A professional, classical musician I know mentioned this while talking about the difficulty of living a traveling life. Being interested in this man and having a tough time comprehending how traveling, performing, music and adoration could add up to something negative, I decided to give The Unconsoled a try.
Oh dear, oh dear. I think I understand now. Charles Ryder, a concert pianist, finds himself in a European town that may or may not be familiar to him. The people around him seem to know a great deal about him, which may be explained by his fame but may not. Indeed some turn out to be family members of some sort. (Interestingly, his knowledge of them seems to be based on remembered reactions - usually frustrated and negative - more than any real memory.) Everyone wants something from him, although most cannot or will not tell him exactly what. He is to perform and speak to the towns-folk and is apparently expected to be some sort of prophet or saviour, all the while various factions vie for his attention and support (while never completely making their positions clear, of course). Most painful is that everyone is exTREMEly deferential while also being exTREMEly demanding.
This isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea. And there are many ways to read The Unconsoled that would be both valid and engaging. But I think it does capture the peculiar pressures - of disjointed family life, the odd sense of community, the need for and dangers of ego and, in a very basic sense, of finding one's place, both literal and figurative, in the world - that traveling performers, musicians in particular, face.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
naser panjepoor
If you're going to read the Unconsoled, you have to be prepared to continuously suspend your confusion and make sense of the story by personally interpreting the characters and events yourself. It is evident that Ishiguro intends to challenge and engage the reader with the same sense of hope, confusion and agony that his protagonist (Ryder) comes to experience.
The story (told in the first person) is built around the exceedingly simple premise of a concert pianist's visit to a small city. In the days leading up to his performance he is forced to deal with various city folk in encounters that seem to peel back the layers of his own history. As a result the reader gains a strong sense that beneath his supposed celebrity status is an emotionally scarred and mentally ill individual.
Ishiguro does does not offer any clues to help you discern reality from illusion, and a lot of readers will consequently feel deceived or cheated by Ishiguro's style. Mounting plot incongruencies increase with each chapter and the reader must just move on without seeking to assemble any logic or consistency in the details of characters, chronology or setting.
Readers should, however, pay close attention to the way Ryder relates to certain characters (Boris, the little boy, Stephan, the young man, and Brodsky, the elderly musician) each of whom serve to reflect the emotional disturbances of Ryder's own past.
The main precaution that should be given, is that the novel's plotline is entirely without conclusion or resolve. The obvious event that you anticipate for the climax is painstakingly approached but never reached. I'm certain that many copies of this novel have been thrown at walls, ripped in half etc.
Instead, a very close interpretation of the themes and subtext stand to yield the insightful reader a very powerful conclusion: the conclusion is in your own comprehension, not in the story itself.
Readers who enjoy The Unconsoled should check out the 1999 film Magnolia, which elicits similar themes of unresolved parent-child / adult-childhood disillusionment. Incidentally, Magnolia also demands a similar style of active-interpretation by the viewer.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
frank grodio
This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you are an axious person and dream of almost, but not quite, getting there -- wherever you are trying to get in life -- this book's for you. I found it to be the most moving novel I have read in years. It has a magical quality to it that, seemingly without trying, gets under you skin and deep into your psyche. I could not put it down -- and neither could my friends (which may tell you something about my friends too!). It's one of the few novels I can go back to and reread without losing the edge it imparts.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
habibah
It took me 3 weeks to get to page 192 of this novel. Noting that by page 192 (of 535) I still had no idea of what was going on, or supposed to be going on, I decided to read some reviews. I want to thank everyone who wrote reviews of this mess to help me set it aside and not waste any more time with it. I will not finish it. A frustrating mishmash of unconnected events. Myriads of characters looking for a plot. In 192 pages, not one creature with whom I could sympathize or care what happened to in the end.

However, I gave it two stars because the style of the writing is interesting (even compelling), as is the leterary approach of describing the main character (Ryder) solely by how everyone else sees him. I just wish something had happened in the first 192 pages, or that someone's review -- and I read ALL of them -- gave me hope that something would happen in the remaining 343 pages. Thank you!
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
saigh kym lambert
In The Unconsoled Ishiguro has painted a vast landscape of our contemporary world, the principal forces that have shaped it and the human beings that populate it. It is neither a dream nor a nightmare as many of the reviewers seem to believe, unless the ignorance, pompousness, insensitivity -aesthetic and moral - portrayed by most of the characters of this landscape constitute a nightmare. Perhaps it does in Ishiguro's mind.
In this panorama the "characters" play their roles against the backdrop of Kishiguro's principal message: a gray, moribund society has created a cultural paralysis of emotions preventing people from communicating their true feelings to the person to whom it would matter, turning all communication into a banal distortion of these feelings, a mere aping of the socially accepted clichés of the collectivity.
A secondary motif is reflected in those "characters" who are so coarse as to be incapable of feelings: they are like bulldozers which have the force to advance, crushing everything in their path. The main protagonist, Ryder, who represents the supposedly highest expression of our culture - artistic and intellectual excellence - would be expected to have the insight and intelligence to reflect on this scene and explain the impasse. But, in fact, he proves to be just as coarse and devoid of feelings (other than total egoism) as the "bulldozers". The difference between them is that he succeeds in hiding this moral void, aided by the stupidity and conformity of a world which identifies his "refined manners" (or sophistry) with true intellectual depth.
May I suggest that the apparently surreal landscape is easily deciphered if the puzzled reader uses the following key to the novel's symbolism for society's stereotypes.
Ryder: the "Intellectual" whose small, cramped thinking reveals how conceited, obtuse, egotistic, and personally vain he is. His ignorance of human relationships leads obviously to the mess he has made of his own life. Moreover, he fails utterly to influence anything, and at the "Concert" (the highest cultural expression of the collectivity)he is present but contributes nothing. He neither "makes a speech" nor "plays the piano": he has nothing to give to the creative genius - either to rational thought or art.
Henri Christoff: "Karl Marx" or the Marxist doctrine whose rational schemes exclude all else in the human psyche.
Leo Brodsky: "l'ancien régime" of 19th century Western culture representing the old "virile" virtues and passion, but full of self-pity for being "rejected", with the single desire of returning to "the way things had been".
The "Sattler Building": belief in "Satan" with its "tall, white cylinder-shape, windowless except for a single, vertical slit near the top"; this is fundamentalist religion, which, along with Brodsky, is being proposed as a "new road" in opposition to the "failed Christoff".
Hoffman: the "Petit Bourgeois" of Western culture - with his masochistic personality struggling to conform and join the upper middle class,
Gustav: the Porter or "Working Class" - the Horse of George Orwell's "Animal Farm", the early trade union "Brother".
Miss Collins: the "Psychoanalyst" who sincerely wants to help by letting the "towns people" talk to her and ask advice, though her own personal relationships are unresolved and her analyses are old and worn, both outdated and rather artificial.
Geoffrey Saunders: the "Typical, nostalgic Englishman" who was once "the Golden Boy of School", but "Family Troubles" (end of empire) prevent him from becoming "Captain of the Team" and he ends up lonely and a failure in life.
Parkhurst: the "Inhibited Englishman" who rejects the "braying Englishman", but still feels "lonely" for the "braying" because it was the only form of communication he knows, just as "clowning" was his only way not to be "dull".
Sophie: the "Woman" who is bogged down by the small details of daily routine, blinded to the hopeless nature of "her man", hoping against hope that he will change and provide affection to her.
Boris: the male who goes from "Boyhood to Maturity" destined to take the non-existent male adult's place in the affections of the Mother.
Stefan: the "Son" who is used by his parents as a scapegoat in their own personal battles and threatened by "castration" by the jealous "elder male".
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
laura lyons
Here's how I came to this book. I read When We Were Orphans and loved it. I read Remains of the Day. Adored it. At that point, I had read several places that Ishiguro's masterpiece was The Unconsoled.

Well, it's certainly different from his other works. 500 pages of a surrealist dream sequence in which things make sense only to the narrator. People he doesn't know at first become people he's had relationships with for years. The plot is almost insignificant, for, like a long and complicated dream, it weaves back and forth so you don't really ever know what's happening. I suppose if you view this as a written description of a dream, it's very effective. I found it incredibly frustrating, and in the end, it left me cold.

It's quite Kafka-esque, though, so if you like that, you'll probably like this. Me, not such a big fan, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised this didn't do it for me.

I'm giving it two stars because even though I didn't care for it, it really is quite well-written. And frustrating or not, there's something to be said for that.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zaira russell
Ishiguro is amazing. 'Never Let me Go' is my favorite but 'Unconsoled' explores really really well, some concepts

Being, for one, the extremely sensitive artist, and how such artist relates (or fails to) with others of more or less thoughtful intelligent characters. Such interactions prove quite interesting for the less sensitive parties & usually more or less painful, for the sensitive artist-type. Ishiguro fleshes this out explicitly.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
stefan kuschnig
I loved this book so completely. It is so devastatingly tragic and beautiful.

It tells the story of a renowned pianist making a stay in a small European town awaiting a performance. The drama that unfolds is sometimes surreal, but once you let yourself get swept into the rhythm of the book, it starts to make sense, and be meaningful.

So many characters who have led lives of timid desperation, looking for a saviour of some sort. The role of the celebrity, of the artist, is also questioned here, as is the religious observation of art.

Truly a mind-bending read. Read it and weep for the heartbreak that is humankind. Weep for the wounds that we create for ourselves.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
katie nielsen
I was totally unprepared for this work. I picked it up simply because I had enjoyed quite a few of Ishiguro's other works. I had no idea what a roller-coaster ride of intrigue, surrealism, hilarity, farce, absurdism, and general weirdness I was in for. What was surprising to me, however, was the fact that I found it so compelling. I had never read anything quite like it before and the more I got into it the more intrigued I became.
Is the narrator suffering from dementia? Are we at the mercy of a mind that no-one can glimpse? Is it all a hideous dream? Is this the result of every character in the book becoming so inward-looking that they have lost all sense of how to communicate with each other? Is it social ineptitude gone berserk? What the hell is going on?
The thing which made it so fascinating for me was the fact that the writing is completely and utterly ordered. The sentences are constructed with a beautiful precision (as always with Ishiguro) and they flow with the skill of a craftsman. This combination of precision and madness was, for me, a novel and innovative device that was extremely clever. The fact that there were virtually no answers at the end made it even more intriguing and so I turned around and read it again.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cailin
I took up this book because of a review in the New Yorker, which praised it. What intrigued me was the reviewer's comment that it was the closest thing to a dream he had ever experienced.
I read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it (though Ishiguro can be a bit plodding at times). Although much of what transpired had a logic similar to that of a dream, it didn't feel that much like a dream experience. But the weird thing is, my memory of it now is that it felt just like a dream.
This is one of those books that really sticks with you.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kendra
Rewarding, but one of the more difficult and disorienting of Ishiguro's books, because time and space have little meaning, and the the reader must focus mainly on dialogue and character behavior to maintain any sense of order. As other reviews have already stated this book reads like a dream. I therefore found it harder to follow than his other books such as "A Pale View of the Hills" and "Remains of the Day" which I would recommend to readers who want an easier book to read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
alissa
In this novel, Kazuo Ishiguro shows us that he is as adept at writing an entirely original work as he is an artist. The facts are few: John Ryder has come to a small town for a performance that will supposedly bolster the reputation of a wounded conductor whom most of the town thinks is a drunken loser (and for good reason). As events unfold, Mr. Ryder is shown to have problems of his own: he apparently does not remember his own wife and son; he skips rehearsals with the orchestra; he cannot remember events from his itinerary. He is often shown to be a confused old man, but clearly he has a reputation of being a virtuoso pianist.
This talented performer / memory-deprived old man dychotomy leads to questions. Is he being coddled by the town? How talented is he? What is the real purpose of his visit? The genius of the Unconsoled is that we are sustained in a dreamworld where a kind of Hegelian logic prevails. It is a brilliant subversive tactic that questions our reliance on the "authenticity" of a narrative voice. Are dreams any less valid than waking experience? What states of awareness are more dreamlike than reality-based? Is more than one truth possible?
This is a challenging and frustrating book, but ultimately it fascinates in the way of all original work -- think of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury or Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This book is a work of art, and that alone, when there are so many mediocre works being published, makes this a worthy read.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
kittyann
I finished reading this book over two weeks ago and I still can't get it out of my thoughts. My thoughts specifically are, "WHAT??" Even though this book is frustrating to a degree where I would have liked to have chucked it out of a moving car, it was far and away one of the better and more memorable books I have ever read.

I'm glad I didn't read the reviews prior to taking on this challenge, I may not have done so if I did. While I kept hoping that all of the issues presented would tidy themselves up in neat little packages, I then realized that this is not a Hollywood movie and I needed to relax and enjoy the very bizarre journey.

There is a story to be told and, you may end up hating every one of the characters at some point, but it is well worth every minute of your time.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
mike newton
On first read, The Unconsoled leaves the reader feeling either quite angry at the author or very sorry for himself. For me it did both. I couldn't believe I had put in the time to read a book of such length and fraught with such nonsensical characters and so little touch with reality. It felt like somebody's nightmare. And, you know what? It was.
For some obscure reason, I finished the book, although I usually give the author fifty pages to drag me in, and shelve his work if he fails the test. Having read other titles by Ishiguro, or hoping for a miracle, I read on. And on. After it was over, I felt I was coming round after a long stretch in surgery: the symptoms were all there, even the horrible feeling you get in the nether regions when anaesthesia is wearing off. I kept the book as a memento of what I'd been through, even though I do admit I had the urge to fling into the trashcan. I am glad I didn't.
Years later, I find myself facing the same sort of perverted reality that Ryder dwells in, albeit at times only (thankfully). There's not much I can say, other than that I read the book only once, eight years ago, and it's been a year since I came to even like it. It IS an extraordinary novel, despite being a long, unpleasant, gruelling read. I feel glad I've read it, and not because I had the patience (resolve? obstinacy?) to stay the course and finish it.
It is a bit demanding to ask so much of a reader, though, in terms of time and effort. Hence the 3 stars.
Read the book. Then wait until it kicks in.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chelsea madren
The Unconsoled is like a dream that is so fun and strange, when you wake up you pat yourself on the back for being cool enough to have conjured up something that awesome. This is one of those books I can recommend to anybody no matter what style of book they enjoy. Ishiguro's recipe for success is his perfect balance of surreal dream-like imagery, wit and suspense. This is difficult feat to pull off without pretension, but it is flawlessly executed here by Ishiguro. It is strange to call this book a page-turner since it lacks a traditional plot and yet I could not put it down. I plan to re-read this in the next few years.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
jenifer hanen
I read 500+ pages waiting to find out WHY WHY WHY?!? I read voraciously, and it was tough to stop reading - the fastest 500 pages I've read in a long time - constantly wondering, WHY WHY WHY?!? And I was left without answers. Without LOTS of answers. I understand why the author did it. He is brilliant, and did convey a greater meaning (or at least, I found a greater meaning). But wow, he could have done that in 200 pages and I'd have been a lot less frustrated.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
amy judd
I read through all the reviews here, and actually one reviewer DID notice that it's a very funny novel, but it looks like a number of people don't think so. Fine. Humor is a subjective thing. I don't think anyone could enjoy it without laughing all the way through, so I can only conclude that those who reviewed it negatively have a different sense of humor from mine.
Second, when I recommend this novel to friends, I don't point out that it follows the schema of a panic dream (e.g., you're late for the meeting and then you discover you're not wearing pants, and so on), because that's a major spoiler. It takes at least 30 pages to figure it out, and this is a large part of the fun. But I reiterate the point here, because it looks like it's not obvious to all reviewers. Again, if you don't get this, then the novel is not going to make a lot of sense, and I doubt it would be enjoyable. (And I don't find it surreal in the sense of Kafka; it's actually a very *realistic* depiction of what it feels like to be dreaming, though clearly a real dream could never go on so long and be self-consistent.)
Finally, I completely disagree with the comment that the chapters could be read in a different order. Maybe the novel is too long, but it's tightly woven. Every seemingly pointless digression in dialogue ties in with a later event. It's just a pleasure to be surprised again and again at how seemingly inconsequential comments are woven into the plot much later.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
devie
I read this book last year after completing a high school English assignment which included the reading of Ishiguro's Remains of the Day. After being astounded by the literary merit and quality of this work, I just had to read another. Well, as those of you who have read both can attest to, I was definitely surprised. The Unconsoled centers around Mr. Ryder, a renowned pianist who comes to play in a small European town (which incidentally, remains unnamed). Right from the start, the reader learns that through his performance, he is somehow expected to save the city from their own cultural degredation. How he is supposed to do this, we don't really know. This confusion remains throughout the book, and it is not for the faint hearted. Ishiguro spares no expense in describing the frustration that Ryder is feeling, creating a suureal dreamworld setting, in which time and space have no meaning (as we know them). Consider an elevator ride in a hotel up 2 floors in which an entire 10 minute conversation is held. Consider doors popping up all over the place that lead Ryder back to his hotel, even though he may have driven a great distance to get there. Consider a wall, strectched across the street for no apparent reason, which simply hinders Ryder from getting to where he wants to go. All of these are described with such a sense of reality and matter-of-factness that they are made to appear like normal ocurrences. Ishiguro's novel is a masterpiece in that it draws the reader in. It is not just about Mr. Ryder -- it is about the reader as well. It is about the frustrations and about the dreamlike quality that everyone's life takes on at times. It is about art, and the power it has over a society. It is about artists, and the enormous cultural burdens and responsibilities they experience. If you are ready for a challenge to both your mind and your sanity, pick up the Unconsoled. Stick with it through all the frustrations and absurdities, and you may just find something deep inside.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dianne richard
I was quite shocked when I came to Part 2 of the book. It was only then that I realised that the Unconsoled was Mr Ryder's adventure in only 3 days.

Nothing much happened to Mr Ryder in the book. Many people just came along asking him to run errands - almost as if he's obliged to do so. However, what made me like him a lot was his calm narrative sound and his ability to sound so cool in all situations. Because of this, times when he got irritated surprised me and made me realised that he might not be what he seemed to be. All these was enough to keep me interested, so much so that i actually finished this long book.

I find it weird how he forgets everything in his past and ended up in this town that took Music so seriously.

There are many weird incidences, like going one whole round in town and realised that he's back and the same place and also one during the party when he stood up and attempted to speak, only to find that the buttons of his pajamas fell apart. Also, the long anticipated performance of his did not happen in the end and I was quite disappointed.

To be honest, I'm still quite confused what message Kazuo Ishiguro is trying to convey through this book.

However overall, I love this book because his writing was nice enough to keep me reading on and on. However, I'm not sure if many people will like it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mahyar mohammadi
This is, as the title indicates, one of my favorite books, and I'm a little disappointed that it's earned only 3.5 stars.

Ishiguro's writing style is flawless. Read The Remains of the Day for proof. This book is for anyone who loves the chocolatey, velvety feel of a perfect sentence; who doesn't mind long paragraphs as long as they're beautifully worded; and who can read a book patiently over many days. If you're interested in devouring a quick read, then this is not for you.

Try falling asleep while reading The Unconsoled; it'll give you pleasant, European dreams.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
jennifer chin
Ishiguro is a master of getting inside the headspace of powerfully affected characters. The 'old-school', powerfully reserved butler in Remains of the Day, for instance, made for what should have been a very dull read but nonetheless propelled the reader unstoppably through the book... The sheer monstrosity of the man's self-control made it impossible to disengage from his story.
In The Unconsoled, Ishiguro stepped forward an order of magnitude, getting inside the headspace of an affected WORLD. This is an Escher landscape peopled by Magritte characters on Dali time... a wife-who-is-not-a-wife, a grandfather/butler/fool/hero. Nothing in this world is quite predictable, except for the driving force of our protagonist's (a concert-pianist-who-is-never-a-concert-pianist) constantly being late for something or other... and constantly being on the verge letting somebody down... setting a stressful tone and pace I've seen noted in reviews here but was not at all bothered by myself.
I have read many reviews about this book, and I've had endless conversations with readers who were sophisticated enough to appreciate it in some way or other. And I think it's safe to say I simply DON'T know what this book is all about. It could be about the 'end of art'. It could be about the disintegration of society and subsequent disenfranchisement and fragmentation of the people and their relationships and roles therein. It could be a simple outlet for an ongoing, haunting dream Ishiguro needed to exorcise. I suspect it is all these things and a great deal more.
My latest view (my opinion having morphed over several years now) is that this novel is nothing short of an encapsulated rendering of the entire modern world, what some call the post-natural world. Ishiguro has held up an only slightly imperfect mirror to a world going through tremendously imperfect change. He reflects the leveling of art (literature included, I would argue), the perversion (or erosion) of culture, the buckling of stable societies and the twisting of ourselves as individuals with roles to play within it. I suspect that as we, the human race, accelerate the uncertainty of how our future will pan out, fans of literature will be among the best equipped to look back on our long history and vaguely recognize some greatness in what is being lost. On the other hand we have this unimaginably dynamic present and future... is that any consolation?
Some obvious relatives of this work might include Kafka (strange worlds), Dostoevsky (plumbing the human condition), and Beckett (disenfranchisement), but The Unconsoled is an entirely unique work. If you are a thinker and a reader of sophisticated literature, then I recommend this book to you highly. Even if you do not connect to it as I have, I can guarantee a surreal, entertaining and thought-provoking journey. Not entirely satisfying, perhaps... but isn't that the point?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
shane hurst
First of all I must confess I am a fan of Ishiguro -the writer. I enjoyed all his books (although I still have to read the first two ones), and this one more than the others. The Unconsoled is a dream. Only in a dream you can: go to distant places and times by just crossing a door; see what people inside are doing, and hear what they talking about, from the seat of your car parked a hundred meters away outside; talk to someone that is also you, just much younger or much older...come across grown-up childhood and college friends in improbable places and situations. And what about collapsing a lifetime and the world to just a few days and one city ? Ishiguro's character Ryder experiences all this, and also does the reader, without any sense of discontinuity, which would have compromised beauty. The Unconsoled is a dream translated to words, with all the pain, humor, improbability, and arbitrariness of dreams. I highly recommend this book to all those people who are permanently examining who they are, to those who are always asking themselves "do I really belong here?", who find themselves asking one and again "how come things are the way they are?", to those with melancholy views of their childhood and youth and/or skeptical views of their old-age and thus cannot fully live in the present, ...in a few words I recommend this book to the dreamers and the unconsoled, to the readers of Kafka, Borges, Calvino, Maupassant.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
sam thompson
Allow me to preface my review with the confession that I couldn't make it through this stifling, repetetive, "postmodern" narrative posing as great literature. The mark of a skillful novelist is the ability to evoke a wide range of emotional textures, to create diverse characters of palpable intellectual depth, to delve into the human condition and show the reader new dimension(s!) of existence. Ishiguro does this fantastically well in Remains of the Day, but fails spectacularly in this debacle of a novel.
Why is it so bad? It is cleverly plotted, yes; like a Kafka novel the surreal unfolds so subtly the reader must pay close attention to notice how it is happening. But what kind of a plot is it? What are the themes, the motifs? It is a plot of regret, of blown opportunities, of self-inflicted powerlessness. The outtakes from Remains of the Day. The only difference is here, instead of ONE character bearing the onerous burden of limp-wristed ineffectualness, here EVERY character is a talisman of misery. And while we're on the subject of monotony, Hey Kazuo, how about escaping the confines of your own mind for a second to pay attention to the way people talk!? Not everybody in the 20th century speaks like a stuffy English butler! In short, this novelist has no ear for dialog, no emotional depth, and certainly no idea where he wants to take the reader. Ishiguro is a talented writer with nothing to say.
The only way to read this novel which makes a modicum of sense to me is as a meta-ironic practical joke on the reader. In this reading, Ryder is Ishiguro, the artist who has achieved some world-wide acclaim. Everyone eagerly awaits his next great performance and accepts him with open arms (hence the plethora of five-star ratings). If, like David Foster Wallace, Ishiguro had stamped the word "Jest" or "Joke" somewhere on the title page, I might have managed a grin and a "You sly dog."
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
ryan fox
It's a pretty good indication that I'm not enjoying a book when it takes me 9 days to read the last 100 pages, even taking into account a desire to savor (when I'm lucky) the wondrous synthesis of ideas as the author draws the storyline to a close.

Perhaps it is unwise to read reviews that others have written about a book before you write your own. What I noticed was that The Unconsoled was frequently described as Kafka-esque, or surreal. I am embarrassed to admit to the world (perhaps I don't have any readers) that I have never read anything by Kafka and didn't see the movie with Jeremy Irons. But I have watched Joe's Apartment and Being John Malkovich, and I was a huge fan of Twin Peaks, so I think I have a grasp of the terminology. And, yes, I suppose it is accurate to say that The Unconsoled is surreal.

A large part of this derives from Ishiguro's bending of space throughout the novel. Places that seem far removed from one another turn out to be easily accessed through a series of narrow passages or underground tunnels, much like I imagine mazelike corriders beneath DisneyWorld (itself a rather surreal space). While a number of reviewers use this feature to bolster their argument that the novel represents a dream, it most reminded me of how individuals suffering from dementia attempt to rationalize their disorientation.

Once I made this connection, I read the remainder of the book in the context of Ryder (a concert pianist called to an unnamed Eastern European city to assist with an artistic crisis) as an individual with dementia. He is, like those suffering from dementia, apathetic toward others and seemingly unconcerned by how his behavior might affect them. A diagnosis of dementia would also explain his abilities to know what people are thinking and what has occurred before he enters a room. He is delusional. But his delusions serve a functional purpose in that they help him fill in the blanks of his increasingly porous memory. Ryder displays other symptoms of dementia, including a lack of attention to personal appearance (he attends a number of functions in his dressing gown), impaired judgment (he leaves his son alone for hours at a cafe), disrupted sleep cycle, attentional deficits, and impulsivity.

I saw the novel as actually taking place in a long-term care facility. Ryder just doesn't where he is. And since he is the narrator, neither does the reader. He doesn't initially recognize his family. Iindeed, he frequently refers to himself as an outsider and uses this self description as an excuse for both his lack of recognition of those who know him and his distant behavior. People he knew growing up England keep making appearances which would be unlikely if he actually were visiting an unfamiliar city.

Following this logic, characters like Gustav (an elderly porter at the hotel who is also his wife's father) and Stephan (the hotel manager's son and a aspiring pianist himself) can be viewed as fellow residents in the institution, while Miss Collins (the resident therapist) and Mr. Hoffman (the hotel manager) are members of the staff.

While my interpretation of the novel appealed to me more than that of other reviewers, I just didn't care what happened in the end. Jim Crace has said that all of his novels are metaphors for life in Birmingham, England, but I also find their facades beautiful and intricate and pleasurable. The metaphor isn't necessary to the enjoyment or understanding of the story. I honestly didn't like The Unconsoled until I came upon a metaphor that made the novel work for me, and by then I was so exhausted by it that I had no inclination to start over from the beginning to see if this insight would increase my enjoyment.

But then maybe I have no appreciation of the role of art in society. As Ryder has warned me, "One should not, in any case, attempt to make a virtue out of one's limitations" (p. 201). After all, this book was short-listed for the Whitbread Novel Award and won the Cheltenham Prize when it was published in 1995.

For more of my book reviews, look for by Blogger blog, Shifting to the Godzone
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dicksy presley
This book is supremely romantic, and for some reason, I find it quite erotic, in an understated way. I find that the book evokes an image of a stylish city, one that is very old, with citizens who are cultured but lost.

The plot is about a pianist who is lost in a strange city with strange people who live in a strange architectural world.

They go around talking about things that don't really make sense. They talk in codes. But maybe the protogonist is demented or crazy. These people have secrets to hide, but their secrets are not so bad.

I don't know how else to describe this book. It is Kafka like. If you enjoy those foreign movies with no plots but have lots of "impressions" you'll enjoy this, in my opinion, very stylish book. Perhaps because I was a pianist and I dated an European, I can understand how Europeans think of classical music. I have an immediate connection with the book's subjects and characters.

Read it, and savor it slowly while enjoying some tea/coffee/or wine. It may be the best or the worst book you've ever read.
★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
dana mullins
It seems that everyone either hates this book, or loves it. After finishing this book I felt like it was a dull story that wasn't worth my time reading it. However, after leaving it alone for a week, I now think that it does actually have much more depth than it appeared to have when I first read it. I'm sure all of you that have read it will have noticed the way certain themes and occurances were repeated and reflected throughout the story. People had their problems that needed sorting out, especially Mr Ryder. The way they sorted out their problems were all characteristic of people you find in the non-fiction world. The whereabouts of the setting and the background to this concert are not needed to see the basic patterns (and more complicated ones) of this book.
I think this book has been one of the more thought provoking ones I have read.
I have rated this book 3 stars because I haven't decided whether the book is supposed to this thought-provoking or that it was just an accident!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
happhire
"The Unconsoled" is frustrating, at first, in its lack of spatial and temporal relationships and is very much a post modern novel in that regard. The reader is drawn into this small world of an unnamed town and the main character Mr. Ryder. Through his interactions with others you learn more about the town, but more importantly about Mr. Ryder's past and present life. Most interesting are his interactions with Mr. Hoffman and his wife, Stephen, and Boris. Interesting family interactions, and the reader has to ask, "who are these people really in relation to Mr. Ryder?"
Well worth reading.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
yazmin
Never before have I found myself in a setting which so mirrors my own dream world. A setting of corridors, halls, quickly-changing landscapes, time which has no beginning, no end; and yet the novel is compulsive, comic, filled with pain and finally a world where people love each other but cannot speak across to each other
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
janet rosfeld
This is surely the funniest book that I have read in a long time. Like Kafka, Ishiguro's humor is deadpan, absurdist, and at times deliberately tedious and overplayed. The book is dazzling complex and rewarding both thematically and structurally, but if you don't find Kafka funny, you may find it slow going. But if you can learn to laugh at it, this may be one of the most memorable books you'll ever read.
The mood is both vast and claustrophobic, like an overcast day. The plot is dream-like in the truest sense of the world -- nothing "fantastic" ever happens, but situations, locations, and characters shift and change in a manner that seems dictated by an impenetrable but thoroughly mundane logic.
I would have trouble recommending this book enough!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
rachel bustin
The Unconsoled must be one of the most frustrating novels I have ever read.
The entire narrative is presented as an uncomfortable dream, and the author gives us no solid ground from where we can interpret this dream record.
Are we supposed to take the dream sequences and events, and make some kind of Freudian analysis of them? This would, however, seem pointless as we are given no idea of, no chance to develop sympathy with the main character, since he always remains this elusive, confused man with no real relationships, no locality and no reliable memories.
Perhaps this portrayl of confused reality and general personal anasthesia is the whole point of Ishiguro's novel. Perhaps he is saying that the world is full of pepole who are frustrated, who carry burdensome and unrealistic expectaions of themselves and others, who are just too busy or emotionallly stuck to relate to others - and that all this amounts to a world which has exactly the quality of a panic dream.
Maybe also Ishiguro was consciosly writing a fin de siecle book - saying that reality has become explicable in the terms developed by Freud at the beginning of the century, and developed endlessly throughout the remainder of it. Perhaps this is a book with which to conclude the therapy-obsessed twentieth century.
Perhaps another aspect of interpreting this book as a response to epochal ideas is that the author is responding to the notion that has developed in the later part of the twentith century, that just what reality is, is not all that clear. Will technology soon anable us to produce replicants that are indistinguishable from "real" people? Will we be able to fabricate organic compounds, living organisms, worlds, universes exactly the same as the original models?
The Unconsoled might be putting the question - Is the action we witness and take part in in our dreams any less real than what we experience in our waking hours?
If you are out there, Kazuo - was any of this in your mind as you subjected yourself to what must have been the strict discilpline of writing this book?
While the book uses a sense of time which is disjointed, as time can be in a dream, the narrative does follow an orderly, cause and event sequence. This seems to contradict the dream ambience, but I wonder whether the sequential narrative is in fact a smokescreen. I began to get a nagging sense that the characters were perhaps merging and blurred as individuals. In particular, I began to suspect that many of the characters were Ryder, portrayed at different times in his life.
For example, Boris is perhaps Ryder as a boy, experiencing some inadequate parenting. Is Stephan Hoffman Ryder later on, terrified of his parents opinion - or wether they will even bother to turn up at his performance. Is Brodsky Ryder when his career is washed up?
Clearly, if the individual's outlines are blurred to this extent, then the apparently orderly passage of time in the narrative is an illsion.
This idea of the loss of clear definition of personal boundaries is possibly a theme in itself.
Perhaps a family, a community, a whole city can be "read" in the same way as an individual, using the same sought of psychological concepts. There are groups of people in this novel who are uncommonly united in their views. The porters' group and the various groupings of prominent citizens, project a sense of concern about their corporate position, they approach Ryder in an obsequious manner, they go through violent mood swings - all in a manner of behaviour that we would normally expect from an single person. Is this perhaps a variation on the (Jungian) notion of the collective unconscioius? Do we share dreams - incuding bad ones -, is there a psychic continuum between actually separate people,and between the different people we individually are at different times in our lives, that leaves us far less personally distinct than we are used to thinking?
This book made me furious while I was reading it, but I couldn't not finish it. In retrospect, it threw up many fascinating questions, some of which I have attempted to express above. My last question - Does anyone have any answers?
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
theresa kalfas
ishiguro's insight into our unwillingness to actually communicate with each other is comic, frustrating and in places terribly sad. in many ways i want this alternate universe to exist, to hear these piano concertos , to see clint eastwood dismantle HAL. it worked.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
ecem dilan
I couldn't finish it for fear it would bring on an anxiety attack like none other. I read the reviews, after I gave up on page 92, hoping to get an explanation without the agony of reading the entire book. Thank you for summing it up so well for me. Now I can get on with my life and worry about my own dream world without suffering another's.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
chinmayee
This book is really fascinating. The story constantly looses its own track without getting lost in nonsense. The best thing about it is that the sympathy you get for the main character is completely destroyed on the last page. That is really a literary tour de force!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
andy
I enjoyed this book immensely, though taking it at face value led me not to catch on to the fact that it makes more sense as a dream. My initial impression was that the hero was somehow psychologically troubled, and it was only after some of the more clearly impossible (or inexplicable) aspects weighed on me that I saw the more simple explanation.
I found following the tale challenging and entertaining. I've enjoyed "An Artist of the Floating World" as well, and noticed in both of these books that Ishiguro's heros feel a common sense of displacement in the worlds they inhabit.
Recommended, but not a light read!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
zein
Let me be brief: this book is, without a doubt, one of the finest works of fiction ever written.
I won't attempt to describe the style, but encourage you to read the first few pages to see for yourself, as its quality is quite evident from the very first; as, I also feel safe in saying, is the fact that this book will be read by classes and citizens 500 years from now.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
a reader
I don't even know where to begin to explain this book. I won't bore you with the details, but the author takes the reader on a non-stop adventure, with a very surrealistic plot. After I finished it (I found it VERY easy reading) I wasn't sure what had happened to the main character, but I certainly enjoyed the trip
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
mayar
Brilliant! Isn't it wonderful to read a book that doesn't coddle the reader? If you're expecting the author to lead you by the nose during this journey and point out every landmark you will be sorely disappointed.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
saeeda
This book is hailed as ' a masterpiece' on the cover. It's anything but, dull, boring, with no real storyline, and no reward for having trudged through endless pages of nothingness. save your money, time and effort for something worth the effort.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
kimberley
In the later years of his life, Robert Shuman supposedly took musical dictation from Shubert's ghost. I came accross that fact not long ago in a New York Times article on musical hallucinations and I immediatly thought back to this book, which remains vivid in my mind years later even as I once took it out of the library unsure if I had read it at all.

Really, that's this book in a nutshell.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
zohra star
Is it not the hallmark of a truly great author to have visions way ahead of his time? Or is it. Having enjoyed "The Remains of the Day" I started on "The Unconsoled". This was quite a struggle, until one day it struck me: I am not reading a book, I am surfing the net (very, very slowly). Is not the incomprehensible passing through a door into a different space/time frame a metaphor for clicking on a hyperlink? Or vice versa? Both allow you, in a few clicks to end up where you began, having forgotten in the meantime why you went away in the first place. For a book written this long ago it is a quite a feat to have previsioned the internet as we know it today; on the other hand, once you know this, or think this is the case, it's just a gimmick. And then I just could not continue reading it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
dwain smith
I have read all of Ishiguro's books (except his latest "While We were Orphnas") and must say this is my favourite!
It has received mixed reviews (many negative) but I like its originality. It has some hilarious passages (esp the "toilet cubicle scene) and I really could identify with poor Ryder - being distracted, waylaid and totally confused on his way to his performance.
It was an excellent read - no words or "reviews" could do it justice - just read it!
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
luis soares
This novel is a masterpiece when you realize what he has done all throughout the novel. I won't spoil it - it is worth the read to figure it out afterwords - they you are like wow. But the novel itself it a dry, boring, dreadful read. I had to really push myself to finish it and not put it down. The Remains of the Day is his best novel. This one is worth the read though to see the overall plot structure in the end. I am not sure how he kept everything straight as he wrote it.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
bo bina
This novel is truly fascinating. I read this book because I too am a pianist - but I was not at all prepared for the intrigue it would offer me. Ishiguro captures a mood and psychological state that cannot be described; you simply must read it!
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
kelly valk
It's interesting to read the glowing reviews of this book. I almost feel like I missed something. I don't think I did.

Mr. Ryder is a completely unsympathetic character. There is nothing to hold on to and no reason to care about him. If this were a character study alone, this might be enought to move you through it, but as the protaganist within in a maze of metaphor, I needed him to pull me through. Someone that I at least had some interest in or found at all redeming. I kept thinking "who cares what happens to you in your shallow self-centered world." And that made it very difficult to "get" the book as a whole or even make it to the end.

I found it wholely unsastisfying and much because I had the feeling that Mr. Ryder was nothing more than a terrible cad.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
rice
I was really looking forward to reading this. I couldn't even finish it. It wasn't the fact that the book reads like weird dream. Yurl Brenner and Clint Eastwood are not in 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have read and enjoyed books that don't appear to make much sense. It wasn't the fact that the narration jumps from first person to third person omnipotent in the same paragraph, if not the same sentence that I found confusing. I'd be happy to wade through all of this, but I'm given no reason to care about the characters. Because these characters come across not so much as characters, but more as decoration to inhabit the weird dream sequences that is this novel, I don't feel in any way compelled to follow along. The main character, Mr. Ryder, comes across as flat. He doesn't even have a first name. It is like he just put there as name, because "Person A" is even less of a name for a character than Mr. Ryder. Had their been some character development in this long dream sequence of a novel, I would have finished it. As it was, circa page 250, I gave up in disgust. I have my own weird dreams; I don't need someone else's.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kerri kennedy
This book just plain ... I'm sorry folks... doesn't measure up!! What an incredible waste of effort on Ishiguro's part and of time and money on mine. I wouldn't give this book to my worst enemy...unless I wanted to bore him to death. I can appreciate the Kafka-esque quality about it but that's it. What leaves me more perplexed then trying to figure out what Ishigura is trying to achieve is attempting to fathem how on earth this thing got published in the first place and unleashed on a well-meaning, unsuspecting reading public.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
michael medin
... the author seems to know how I feel and experience everything when I'm dreaming, and to have woven all this into a long and very involved dreamtale, in a way and at a pace that is perfect.

This might be the best book I'll ever read.

Intriguingly, my sister feels the same way, but both our partners hated it. Perhaps they dream differently.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
janki
Without peer, this is the worst book I have ever read. Comparisons to Kafka are an insult. That Ishiguro got this book through an editor and publisher tells me that it exploited an opportunity to make money based on the author's previous reputation.
I did two things I absolutely NEVER do: I skipped to the end to attempt to figure out what was going on, and I did not finish the book.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆
andrew fischer
Whatever you want to call this one--dream fiction, surrealism, or Kafkaesque--the twists and turns fail to inform the reader of anything significant except for the fact that the main character always manages to forget the most essential questions about life. Yes, I know we fail to communicate in day to day life... but isn't there something more? I found this book to be an empty exercise of prosaic tricks.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
ala alh
Dreadful. A beautifully written piece of nothing. I suppose there was a story in there somewhere, but the layers of impression and nuance and deliberate disorientation thoroughly destroyed any plot there may have been to begin with. I actually suspect that there was no plot to this novel, if it can even be called such. As prose, 'tis written well. As a novel, however, it blows.

Consoled myself afterwards by reading the far superior The Remains Of The Day again.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
chris huff
I like a variety of works. My only criterion is that it is well written. Things that qualify a book as well written include: no huge gaps of logic, well crafted characters, clever plot lines/twists and, most of all, entertaining. The stories can be short or long, complicated or simple, depressing (Grapes of Wrath) or humorous. This book is the second worst I have ever read. (I will not tell you the worst, as you may be compelled to try it, and I do NOT want to be responsible for that.) To say the plot is erratic is misleading, as there really is no plot. There are a variety of short "encounters" (for lack of a better word), that do not make sense individually, let alone as a whole. I read previous reviews, and I agree that he may have been making an attempt to describe the character from different perspectives during different times in his life, but WHO CARES? The writing and characters were not interesting enough to make up for all that was lacking in plot, character development, etc. Any interpretation that you give it is exactly that. It's like looking at a blank canvas from a famous painter and guessing:"It's a statement of our current culture!" or "It's a ghost in a snowstorm!" One is just as valid (and pointless) as the other. In short, the book is frustrating to read, as the reader keeps expecting (hoping) the author will cleverly tie things together or make sense of the disjointed, rambling narrative, BUT IT NEVER HAPPENS!!! You may be thinking, "Well, this reviewer could need a tidy, or even pleasant ending, and does not appreciate subtlety or complexity." but that is far from the case. I really, really wanted to like it. It was only because I wanted to like it that I could continue to plough through over 500 pages of drivel. I wish I had read a review like this prior to reading the book and saved me some trouble.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
ovunc tarakcioglu
I hurled this book across many a floor on many occaisions in complete frustration, but it never laid low for long. I'm still desperately seeking something as original, as engrossing and as memorable to read (to no avail).I remain unconsoled. of course.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
shirin bhattacharya
After enjoying "Remains of the Day" and even "When We Were Orphans", I thought Ishiguro was a sure bet and bought this book. I was wrong.
I read for pleasure, but there was none here. The novel is like a nightmare you can't wake up from. The author constantly tricks you into reading more, even after you already realize the joke is on you. Around halfway through this torture, I "pinched" myself by picking up another book, and a couple of days later dumped The Unconsoled in the thrash.
Do not punish yourself with this.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
will oxtoby
It is not the perfect novel, but it's not far off... I think having written this book and "The Remains of the Day," Ishiguro has to be considered one of the greatest writers in the English language today...
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
nikusha
Somewhere around page 120 I made the horrible decision to commit to reading this entire novel. I told myself that I would be rewarded with some insane twist that I could never envision at this stage. I joked, with my friend who recommended Ishiguro, that I had no clue what was going on.
Halfway through, I convinced myself that the prize would come in the end.
Three quarters of the way in, a momentum began to build in my mind that the surprise was imminent.
With only a few pages left, I thought it would be an even bigger twist; Given that there was such little room left. How could it be possible to pull off such a feat?

There is no prize.
Do not listen to those who are afraid to sound ignorant or unenlightened, this book sucks. This book is so bad, it motivated me to write my first ever internet review of any product. The only reason that I am not furious, is because I borrowed this waste of time from the library.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
suelen
Ishuguro does a magnificant job of creating the sense of frustration that one experiences in a dream, simlar to the "old hag" - dreams where you can't run, or can't get where you want to go. But, frankly, who wants to experience that? It created a sense of pent up irritation in me as I read. What's the point? I
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
pammie
This book is unfortunately the worst fiction I've ever read. I expected a
fluid, flowing, engaging dreamlike book. Situations that eerily flow from
one scene to another, with little reason or rhyme, fantastical things
occurring. In many respects this book, on the surface, does hit many of the
things you'd expect a dream to have. But...

But, the problem is in the narration of it. The writer seems to make no
effort to move the story along or make you care. So many of the characters
are undefined, confusing, and more importantly, barely make you care about
them. Dialog in the book is the worst and most boring I've ever read in my
entire life. Some characters ramble on for 4 pages in one giant paragraph,
and essentially say nothing at all, using double superfluous words and
phrases, retreading the same phrase they just said 9 words back. Instead of
getting a dreamlike quality to the narrative, I became bored and dragged
down very quickly. After a couple chapters, I found I really did not care
what happened next. For a few I did, but it was rare. I was dreading each
encounter the main character had with others, for fear that I'd be dragged
into another endless conversation. Dread and unexpectness is part of the
book's concept, but after a time I found myself putting the book down and
not even caring that I'd get to the end. I cared that little. None of it
made any difference to me, the main characters, his friends, the female, the
grandfather. No one's plight ever was important enough to warrant reading
the book until it's end.

And that is my warning to you, my major complaint. After hearing it's
concept I was excited to read it. Then I was ultimately let down. It is not
entertaining, yes somewhat mysterious, rather dreamlike, but in the end not
worth the effort to read. I can think of 100 ways to make a dream narrative
that is well crafted and engaging to the reader. Buy this book with caution.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
sue neeley
This is the worst book I have ever read. It is like an awful date who doesn't know what they want in life and is unhappy with everything.

At least with a date you can usually have a decent dinner, nod your head pleasantly and tune out. This book offers no similar escape options.

Paragraphs often run on for pages and pages while a character thinks about something as mundane as whether or not a button is sewn onto a coat correctly and how an old man might feel about it.

If you have time for a book like this, please take up something useful like knitting pneumonia vests for orphans. Several hours of my life are now lost forever.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
hamed bidi
Please don't be scared off by the literati reviews for The Unconsoled. Ishiguro has created a tale in which to escape completely, to read this book is to experience the dream of another with essentially no demands put upon you. Enjoy!
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
cy engelke
I was quite wrong about this rather Kafkaesque masterpiece when I first gave up on it years ago. One must give oneself over to the hypnotic swing of Ish's prose--very sparse, but when he DOES throw in a mot juste-perfect adjective, it whams you. Regretting my earlier rubbishing of this really riveting, mysterious trip.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
jan netolicky
Remains of the Day was one of the best books I ever read. This was one of the worst books I ever read. It seems like Ishiguro was trying to do something artsy and creative and instead crafted something annoying and frustrating. It is a long book that goes no where in particular doing little of any interest in between. I should have read Remains of the Day two more times instead.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
maddie
Without spoiling the book, I will just say this: it is a cautionary tale for those who are selfish - for those who have no time for anyone else but themselves. Read the first chapter over and over until you can see where Ryder is and why the narrative reads like a bad dream...
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
serita
I adore Ishiguro. I was bereft when I finished The Remains of the Day. Thought A Pale View of Hills was fabulous. I absolutely abhorred the Unconsoled. I confess, I read to enjoy myself. I have a degree in English literature. I don't have a problem with analysis, but this was too much work to get any enjoyment out of it at all.
★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
kaiks
While I've loved his other books- this one left me cold. Disjointed, pointless, surrealistic, and generally dull. I tried to enjoy it- and the writing can be lyrical- but I left it three quarters through- there simply was no point, and there are other better books waiting to be read.
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