A Tale for the Time Being
"A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be."
A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki, was one of the most entrancing books I've read this year. It tells the tale of 16-year-old Nao and Ruth (who shares a lot of characteristics in common with the author) and how Ruth finds Nao's book washed up on the shore of her remote western Canadian island. It focuses heavily on disaster and suicide and I won't spoil anything for you besides that I'm tagging this "buddhism," "climate change," "Japan," "Canada" and "family..." I don't really know how to process the story. Visceral and graphic and poetic and mysterious... I can't put my finger on what made Ozeki's story work so well. One review writes that the story is "a fascinating multigenerational tapestry of long ago, recent past, and present" and "the writing resonates with an immediacy and rawness that is believable and touching." (review) "Rawness" is definitely an appropriate word to describe the story. A Tale for the Time Being was reality rooted in a framework of Japanese history and climate change fears, but also intertwined with myth and religion and ideas about consciousness and living in the now. I can't really explain the plot line without spoiling anything. I encourage you to read it for yourself. The New York Times Books Review puts it more succinctly than I can: "Many of the elements of Nao’s story — schoolgirl bullying, unemployed suicidal “salarymen,” kamikaze pilots — are among a Western reader’s most familiar images of Japan, but in Nao’s telling, refracted through Ruth’s musings, they become fresh and immediate, occasionally searingly painful." The dual stories of Nao and Ruth worked so wonderfully well and the ending left me wanting so much more... Rating: ★★★★★