Unlike many future novelists, Ishiguro doesn’t spend his teenage breathing classics. He is for them to listen to music and create his own music. In 1968 he bought Bob Dylan’s first album, “John Wesley Harding,” and has been working backwards ever since. He and his friends would sit for hours nodding to Dylan’s puzzling lyrics as if they understood every word. It’s like a microcosm of adolescence, he tells me, pretending to know while not knowing. Ishiguro isn’t just cheating. From Dylan, as well as Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell, he learned about first-person abilities: how a character can be summoned into existence with just a few words.
Ishiguro’s daughter, Naomi, who is about to publish her first novel, “Common Ground”, told me that she doesn’t recognize her father in any of his characters. She then corrects herself: Ono’s mean nephew in “An Artist of the Floating World”, has a phobia of “Popeye” and “The Lone Ranger” is an indicator of the newly emerging American cultural hegemony. Life, perhaps a version of Ishiguro at the same age. However, here the similarity no longer exists. “Some people leave their art grinder on a very low level, so you can see where everything is coming from, and some people leave it on a very high level, so you don’t know,” said Naomi, borrowing a concept from singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer. Ishiguro’s art grinder has numbered 10. Like Colson Whitehead or Hilary Mantel, he finds it easier to reveal people who are not like him.
However, it is fascinating to draw a connection between Ishiguro’s fragmentary immigration experience as a child and the outside storytellers he later dreamed of. Stevens, in “The Remains of the Day”, is a brilliant British housekeeper, but as his new American boss pointed out, he has lived so long in stately houses that he It’s hard to see real England. On his trip through the West as suggested by his owner, he was like a careless foreign tourist, lost his way, out of gas and unable to understand the natives deeply. In fact, not too many Britons consider Stevens a human being in general. Watching the sunset from a seaside pier at the end of the book, he watched with interest a group of people gathered nearby:
At first, I naturally assumed they were a group of friends hanging out together at night. But as I listened to their exchanges, it became clear that they were strangers who had just met here, right behind me. Apparently they all paused for a moment to let the lights come on, and then started chatting. When I watch them now, they are laughing happily together. It was curious how people were able to build warm feelings for each other so quickly.
Just as Klara was staring at the crowd from the shop front window, Stevens was probably watching the Aurora Borealis, which was his surprise at seeing this casual event.
Before studying English and philosophy at the University of Kent, Ishiguro hitchhiked around the United States and did a variety of jobs back home, including as the Queen’s cockfighting job at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. Starting about a mile behind the trench, or camp, where the Empress Dowager and her guests waited with their guns, the beaters would trudle across the meadow, driving the birds forward. shooting range. At the end of the season, there was a drink party for the beaters organized by His Majesty. Ishiguro was impressed by her charm, especially how she told them it was time to leave: Although it was late, she didn’t turn on the lights. “Oh, it’s getting dark,” she whispered as the sun began to set, before inviting her guests to examine a series of paintings, which only happened along the corridor leading to the exit.
If that experience gave him a useful behind-the-scenes look at a vast old country house, then the job he undertook after graduation, at an organization in West London that specializes in helping people homeless looking for housing, taught him something about life on the other end of society. spectrum. While working there, he met Lorna MacDougall, a social worker from Glasgow, with whom he would later marry. MacDougall is Ishiguro’s first and foremost reader, and her comments can be annoying. After reading the first 80 pages of his previous novel, “The Buried Giant” (2015), a historical fantasy film set in Dark Age England, she told he says that simple ornate dialogue is ineffective and he needs to start over. Ishiguro did as she suggested.
He’s always receptive to feedback. In 1979, Ishiguro applied and was admitted to study creative writing at the University of East Anglia. One of his oldest friends, Jim Green, who is earning a master’s degree in literature, recalls Ishiguro’s reaction to weekly reading to a 19th-century novel seminar. My impression is how he talks about Stendhal or Dickens or Eliot or Balzac as if they were fellow craftsmen, ”said Green. “There is no sign of arrogance or arrogance, but he treats them as if they were his colleagues from a creative writing course who are showing him their work. It was: ‘Ah, OK, that’s why it happened, here’s how this is done. Hmm, not sure that that bit works. ”