Thoughts on
The Remains of the Day
by Kazuo Ishiguro



When I told a friend I was reading a book narrated by an absurdly dull butler who refuses to discuss anything deeper than the minutiae of his duties, she replied, “Wow, that sounds incredibly boring.”

That friend was right. It’s dry, it’s painful, and I loved it.

My copy of Remains of the Day has the cheesiest cover, made to match the movie poster: Anthony Hopkins, staring into the distance, looks like he’s just smelled a fart, while smooth-faced Emma Thompson stares longingly at his delicate nostrils.

Oh my, the yearning!

I’d honestly be embarrassed to read this copy in public; it looks like I’m reading a very saucy novel about a hot old butler willing to do anything his mistress desires.

I mean, maybe there’s a bit of that somewhere underneath, but readers – much like Miss Kenton – may be sorely disappointed.

I’m so fond of this novel. “Knock knock,” I want to say, patting over old Jeeves’ heart. “Anybody home?”

It actually reminds me of a guy I fell in love with. Something about all those feelings existing below the surface... Yeah, this butler’s oozing with Spock appeal.

But don’t let my wandering imagination or the bodice-ripping cover give you the wrong impression. Like the narrator himself, this is a serious book that asks a serious moral question.

It’s also seriously funny and bittersweet, gently breaking your heart, but also tenderly reminding you that you must make the most of what remains...

Subtlety is for wimps. Just ask Jeeves!

Read during summer of 2021
Review written


Passages

“You can assure Father I’m very well briefed indeed. This attaché case” – he nudged it with his foot – “is chock-full of notes on every possible angle one can imagine.”

“Is that so, sir?”

“I suppose you’ve been wondering why I never let go of this case. Well, now you know. Imagine if the wrong person opened it.”


[Dignity] is rather a hard thing to explain in a few words, sir. But I suspect it comes down to not removing one’s clothing in public.


Links

Kazuo Ishiguro on The Remains of the Day ∼ Books on Film
hear Ishiguro talk about the book vs. its movie adaptation

Zen Comedy in Commonwealth Literature: Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day ∼ John Rothfork
investigate the novel’s questions through Confucian and Zen Buddhist lenses