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Geoffrey Maloney
Posted on Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - 05:34 am:   

An essay I wrote on the fabulous book The Unconsoled is now online at Fantastic Metropolis: http://www.fantasticmetropolis.com/i/ishiguro-distortions/

I love that book. Hope you enjoy the essay.
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des
Posted on Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - 02:01 am:   

One of my favourite ever books. I'm sure to read your essay. Thanks.
His latest 'Never Let Me Go' is another masterpiece. Very moving.
des
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des
Posted on Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - 03:21 am:   

A marvellous essay. Spot on. It is certainly *the* greatest fantastic novel in my view.
des
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Geoffrey Maloney
Posted on Thursday, January 05, 2006 - 04:30 am:   

Des, I'm yet to read the latest. It's on my list, but just so expensive to buy in Australia at the moment. Thank you for the comments on the essay. Coming from you, that's made my day.

I stumbled with The Remains of the Day, fell over, picked it up and got it in an illuminating moment as I climbed to my feet again. Then I read The Unconsoled. It was so powerful, so clever, seemed to be doing all these things that everybody had only hinted at before.

The Artist in the Floating World was immaculate. I have A Pale View of Hills sitting on my desk. It's been sitting there for about three years now. I haven't read it. It's my treasure that I save to read, when I run out of things that get me excited about writing.

I have stumbled on When We Were Orphans as well. It is an exceptional book. The detective as super hero works, as does the exceptional background, that created him, but the fact that other people seem to believe his story towards the end just made me wonder how I should read the story. Detective school boy fantasy I suspect, remembering that Ishiguro is such a master of the unreliable narrator. But did he push it too far, was it too much that he asked us to believe in? After The Unconsoled we could say no, but still a question lingers over that book for me. I need to read it again. He is one of the great writers.


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Mastadge
Posted on Thursday, January 05, 2006 - 09:46 am:   

I think THE UNCONSOLED is the only Ishiguro I *haven't* read. Guess I should get on that, then.
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Geoffrey Maloney
Posted on Saturday, January 07, 2006 - 02:05 am:   

Mastadge

It's one of the most important books that I have ever read in terms of trying to bring all the fantastic elements of literature together and sell it as a literary novel. Ishiguro uses all the wonderful elements of F&SF and chooses not to explain any of them, where as in F&SF we usually have the explanations rammed into our heads. So he uses these elements in a traditional literary novel way, about asking questions. Of course, you need to accept, as I do that the literary novel is all about asking questions, and rarely providing answers. Because it's all to complex. Which it is.
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Anonymous
Posted on Monday, January 16, 2006 - 02:57 pm:   

Geoff, I read that essay on FM. Excellent. Jeez, I feel rather insecure at not having reading the book. I'll order it and if it's half as good as you say, then I'm in for a treat.

regards
Sean Wright
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Geoffrey Maloney
Posted on Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - 02:37 am:   

Hi Sean. How are you? Thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you liked the essay. I think it's a book that should appeal to anybody who likes SF, urban fantasy and modern literary writing. It tweaked all of my buttons. But hell, don't necessarily buy a copy (sorry Mr Ishiguro)-- I'm sure your local library has one. Since I've had kids I've rediscovered the joys of the local library. A few weeks ago I found a copy of David Mitchell's Number9dream there and a beautiful hard back edition of Jeff Vandermeer's City of Saints and Madmen. Admittedly, I've read the latter but I was still impressed that a suburban library in Brisbane had a copy of the very best edition of that book.
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Trent Jamieson
Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - 12:50 am:   

Geoff,

That was a fascinating essay. The Unconsoled is next on my reading list.

I agree with you about Brisbane's libraries - they're really one of the best things our council has produced.

Regards,
Trent Jamieson
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Geoffrey Maloney
Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - 01:06 am:   

Hi Trent

I'm thinking that some way cool books are getting produced out of the synthesis of English-speaking world and Japanese culture in recent years. Mr Ishiguro is an example, David Mitchell too, and the guy who wrote the short story collection "Sound of White Ants" from Elastic Press whose name I am sorry that I forget at the moment (Trent, do you still have that BTW) and of course our own Maxine McArthur's latest novel. Not to mention of course the Japanese writers that I'm yet to catch up with. I've been meaning to read Kafka on the Beach for ages now.

Yes, there is nothing like a good library system. I wasted my formative years in those places. My god, the things that they would let you read that your parents never would. And Brisbane has a good library system. We're very lucky.
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Tamar
Posted on Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - 03:28 am:   

Brian Howell is the name you're looking for, Geoffrey.
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des
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 12:11 am:   

Interesting interview with KI here:
http://www.asiasource.org/news/special_reports/ishiguro.cfm

I was particularly interested by his observations regarding the influence on him by Proust.
des
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Geoffrey Maloney
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 02:18 am:   

Tamar, thank you. Of course, it's Brian Howell. Momentary lapse of memory and as I'm sure Trent still has my copy (or another Australian writer that I foist things upon; I'm a habitual foister when it comes to books) I couldn't grab it off the shelf and refresh myself. I thought it was a very good collection. Disturbing in some ways but still very good.

Thanks for the link, Des. I'll dart off and read it now.
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Geoffrey Maloney
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 03:25 am:   

Des, that was a lovely honest interview. I loved the bit where he said "Dostoevsky is a big favorite of mine, but it's odd to think of him as an influence." Yet he admits that novel works best on the inner turmoil which is somthing that visual media can't do. We'll he didn't quite say that but I think it's true. You cannot capture the inner turmoil in the visual media. And that inner turnoil was exactly what Dostoyevsky wanted to capture with his writing. So the connection is obvious, I think.

In terms of writing, at least in F&SF, I've noticed a bit of a backlash against the first person narrative. My own feelings about this are that first person voice is probably the best voice at the moment that allows writing to distinguish itself from the visual media. Others seem to think that by keeping writing in the third person you are more able to attract readers that the visual media attracts. Interesting question.
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Trent Jamieson
Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2006 - 11:55 pm:   

Hi Geoff,

yes I do have your copy. Email me your postal address and I'll send it to you, or pop in and visit me at work, been a while since we've caught up and had a coffee.

I must admit I am something of a first person junkie. And I think you've touched on something there. It may well be the best voice to distinguish writing from other media - depending on the writer's intent of course.

Trent
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Cat
Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 03:13 am:   

I'm a huge fan of quality first person narrative and cannot understand the bias against it.

Speaking of visual media -- I just watched an amazing film. Takeshi Kitano's Zaitoichi the blind swordsman. It ended with a tap dance sequence... not at all what I was expecting to see. I've read about the tradition of Zaitoichi films but haven't seen any of the old ones.
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ben peek
Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 02:18 pm:   

the old ZATOICHI films are a mixed bag. there's twenty odd of them, and i've only seen a few, but some are cool, and some are dodge. ZATOICHI VS YOJIMBO has toshiro mifune in it, which is always heaps cool, though my favourite is probably ZATOICHI VS THE ONE ARMED SWORDSMAN out of the old films. none of the ones i've seen stack up against kitano's film, however.

as for 1st person vs 3rd person, i think it's all in how you use it, and what kind of affect/effect you're going for. i think that either may attract readers from other mediums more, or distinguish prose more, is a kind of stupid argument, imo. it's all words on a page and the reading process is the same.
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 03:31 pm:   

Personally, I thought Kitano's film was horrible. Even the worst of the old Zatoichi's (probably Zatoich vs. Yojimbo) is better than Kitano's film. Even the most bland of the Zatoichi TV series was better than Kitano's version. The tap dancing alone was stupid enough to make the film a sort of pointless joke.

Of course that is just my opinion.
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ben peek
Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 07:30 pm:   

you're obviously insane, brendan :-)
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Brendan
Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 11:18 pm:   

Well, in a world of madmen. . .
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Ben Payne
Posted on Sunday, January 22, 2006 - 11:34 pm:   

I tend to write third and first person the same, and often forget, when people ask me, which one a story was in... it's all in heads, you know...

not that anyone should take advise from me...

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Brendan
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 12:10 am:   

Personally, for Samurai films, I prefer the older ones: Baby Cart, Seven Samurai, etc.

One good recent film though was Twilight Samurai.

Maybe it is just because I grew up with this style of film and can't really adapt myself to the "violence for the sake of violence" school of thought (Quentin Tarintino, Miike etc.) Not that I don't see a good bit merit in the films of these fellows, but the merit I see is not based on the high level of violence. Otherwise, it seems that a lot of people have started to equate a high level of violence with high artistic merit.
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Geoffrey Maloney
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 02:10 am:   

Hey, I'm old enough to remember being a Shintaro fan. I loved the dodgey old black and white film that almost convinced you that it had been filmed at the time.

A tap dance sequence in a samurai movie? Sorry, to disappoint anyone but that's almost must see for me.
In this world of increasing morphism to universal mundanity, being ridiculous has a wonderful artistic attraction. I expect BTW that The Unconsoled would appear ridiculous to many readers. It isn't but I can see how people would find it that way.

Ben, one of the advantages of third person is that it doesn't need to spend much time dealing with people's heads, and there's a lot of fiction like that. On the otherhand it can spend equal time in different people's heads. It's still better than movies where you can't get inside people's heads at all without a voice over. We'll...unless the dialogue is absolutely exceptional. But then first person gives you that total inside edge into the narrator character which you can't get anywhere else. The risk for the writer is that readers just won't like that one character you've used.

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ben peek
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 03:14 am:   

brendan: i don't mind the old samurai films. i love SEVEN SAMURAI for example. however, i'm a big kitano (beat takeshi) fan, also, and ZATOICHI was heaps fun. i've never had much problem with violence, i have to say, simply because i know it's all fake. i don't equate violence with merit, as i can think of plenty of films that are violent and stupid, but in the tarantino/kitano cases (i've never seen miike's films) there's a whole heap going for them.

geoff: i'm not sure 3rd person offers you any more ability to not spend time in a head than in 1st person, or even the different heads. there are 1st person books that don't offer you anything but surface actions, same as 3rd, and vice versa. for multiple narrators, you can simply change narrator and voice as is easily done. likewise, i've read 3rd person narrators that are nothing but in the head of their characters. which is not to say you don't have a point, it's just that i don't find either to have any quality that lifts it over another except in relation to what you want to do with the story.

just imo, of course.

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Brendan
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 03:28 am:   

I guess the problem is with the new Zatoichi, is that if you take away the violence, you are left with a sort of TV quality plot. Then, the fact that at the end of the film we find out that Zatoichi is not actually blind after all . . . Well, what is the point of that? Add to this the Riverdance ending and, well . . . I just was left with a feeling of "Why bother?"

It would sort of be like if One Armed Sworsmen, at the end of his films, suddenly came out with an arm.

As for violence, Miike certainly pushes the edge of the spectrum. But his films have a psychological impact as well. Unlike, lets say, Kill Bill.
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ben peek
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 04:48 am:   

i didn't think he could actually see at the end of the film. i mean, he says, even with his eyes open he can't see a thing and trips over the rock? surely that means he's blind.

still, i thought the plot of ZATOICHI was nicely handled. it wasn't anything special, bit kitano weaved the different strands of it together nicely, i thought. it's not like any of those zatoichi films are great shakes for plots, anyhow. ZATOICHI VS YOJIMBO is essentially YOJIMBO with 'ichi.

i liked KILL BILL. i thought it was a nicely done, but it didn't need to be chopped in half. the emotions resonated well in it.
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Brendan
Posted on Monday, January 23, 2006 - 08:02 am:   

Well, maybe it is just different tastes. I did not dislike Kill Bill, but I wasn't really impressed either. It was mildly entertaining, but certainly not inspirational. For a good Asian movie you might want to try Old Boy if you haven't already. Certainly much more original than the above mentioned films.

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