Noise, noise, noise filling the roaring silence. This was an uncomfortable read. The narrative was incessant and seemed always to roll right past me, leaving me with the feeling I’d missed something.
Nothing was happening. But I couldn’t put it down.
In the end, I found what was missing: It was Kathy H.’s outrage and despair. And this is where Ishiguro’s genius lies.
From cover to cover, our protagonist chatters on about the small and the meaningless, and with painstaking detail. Yet in all her obsessive rumination, she never once contemplates the horror that frames her entire short life and how she knows it will end. It’s like watching someone live in a rotting corpse of a house—ghosts and all—intent on filling its corners with gayly colored second-hand gaud and hiding its putrid walls beneath cheap chintzy wallpaper.
Ishiguro’s themes mirror the ongoing oppression in our social realities and the blind arguments we make to excuse them and keep them alive: They’re not like us. The subjugation of people of color by white power. The cruelty of the meat industry. Cold indifference. Outright denial.
But on a more personal level, I had to admit that Kathy H.’s (infuriating) dissociation was familiar. Don’t we all worry about lost cassette tapes, dirtying our favorite shirts, and petty arguments that we’ll soon forget, all the while ignoring bigger pain? Don’t we all just do what we can, with what we have, as long as we can? Distracting ourselves and filling the deafening silence with noise, noise, noise.
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