Klara and the Sun

Motherfucker made me cry on a train. That’s not a nice thing to do but I don’t let stuff like that get to me anymore. Boys can cry, too. Don’t let the gender Nazis tell you different. Besides, Kazuo Ishiguro can’t hide his tear-jerking beauty any better than the rest of us can.

I don’t like to give away any part of the plot when I write about a book because I think each story should be approached with an unsuspecting mind. I feel that even stronger for this story. So, I will include one passage that has nothing to do with the plot, to give a taste of the book’s style and feel and heart:

…it was in the rush that followed that I spotted the small man in the raincoat. He was on the RPO Building side, and I estimated seventy-one years old. He was waving and calling, coming so near the edge of the sidewalk I was worried he’d step out in front of the moving taxis. He had on a brown raincoat and its belt was dangling down one side, almost touching his ankle, but he didn’t seem to notice, and kept waving and calling over to our side. A crowd of passers-by had formed right outside our store, not to look at us, but because, for a moment, the sidewalk had become so busy no one had been able to move. Then something changed, the crowd grew thinner, and I saw standing before us a small woman, her back to us, looking across the four lanes of moving taxis to the waving man. I couldn’t see her face, but I estimated sixty-seven years from her shape and posture. I named her in my mind the Coffee Cup Lady because from the back, and in her thick wool coat, she seemed small and wide and round-shouldered like the ceramic coffee cups resting upside down on the Red Shelves. Although the man kept waving and calling, and she’d clearly seen him, she didn’t wave or call back. She kept completely still, even when a pair of runners came towards her, parted on either side, then joined up again, their sports shoes making small splashes down the sidewalk.

Then at last she moved. She went towards the crossing – as the man had been signaling for her to do – taking slow steps at first, then hurrying. She had to stop again, to wait like everyone else at the lights, and the man stopped waving, but he was watching her so anxiously, I again thought he might step out in front of the taxis. But he calmed himself and walked towards his end of the crossing to wait for her. And as the taxis stopped, and the Coffee Cup Lady began to cross with the rest, I saw the man raise a fist to one of his eyes, in the way I’d seen some children do in the store when they got upset. Then the Coffee Cup Lady reached the RPO Building side, and she and the man were holding each other so tightly they were like one large person, and the Sun, noticing, was pouring his nourishment on them.

Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun

My copy of Klara and The Sun had a defect. Pages 233 through 240 were bound together like conjoined twins. I cut them apart, carefully but not cleanly, with my pocket knife. It took just enough time to slice the pages free from each other for me to consider the possibility that this was part of the story. Maybe every copy of this book requires a little bit of extra work on the part of the reader to get inside the story, as all great stories do.

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