Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Book Review: A Tale For The Time Being

"It made me feel sad when I caught myself pretending that everybody out there in cyberspace cared about what I thought, when really nobody gives a shit. And when I multiplied that sad feeling by all the millions of people in their little rooms, furiously writing and posting to their lonely little pages that nobody has time to read because they're all so busy writing and posting, it kind of broke my heart."

Wow, this book was deep. It took me to deep places. From attempted suicides, tsunamis, earthquakes, ghosts, kamikaze pilots, and great-grandmother Zen Buddhist nuns. From a small, lonely island off the western coast of Canada to the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. A Tale For The Time Being follows the lives of two separate women, who are strangers to each other. Naoki or "Nao" as she's called is a poor Japanese teenager who is relentlessly bullied. Nao decides to write the life story of her 104-year-old great-grandmother who lives in a Zen Buddhist temple. Somehow the notebook ends up washing up on the shore of the Canadian island where Ruth calls home. Ruth is half-Japanese and an author and is immediately drawn in to the lives of Nao and her family.The notebook becomes a total enigma.

I loved this book. I wanted to savor every moment of it and yet devour it at the same time. It's really hard to describe the book or the way it made me think and feel. It had an esoteric feeling to it and I couldn't help feel that I was reading something profound. Like secrets of the universe were hidden inside its pages. Yet, the book had humor. It also had incredible sadness and depth. Sometimes, the story even got a bit spooky. How can a book have so much to offer and really be so complex, yet be written in such a neat and clean manner? ...and yet also have a quirkiness to it?

The author, Ruth Ozeki, did an amazing job. Half way through I went on AbeBooks and bought her other two novels, My Year of Meats and All Over Creation. Does anyone else ever feel like sometimes you buy a book, but then lose the yearning to read it right away? Then it sits on your shelf for maybe weeks, months, or years and you almost forget it's there. Then one day, that book just pops in your head and you are all the sudden out-of-the-blue compelled to read it right away. You must read it now and you don't know why. That's what this book did to me. It's like once you finish reading one of those books, you think "this was the right time to read, if I would have read it when I first acquired it, it wouldn't have been the same." It's like books come into your life for a reason and if you follow those sudden yearnings, it's almost always the right time.

I am giving A Tale For The Time Being 5 out of 5 stars.

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