a tour de force

Never Let Me Go is a book you read with your stomach done up in knots, with a stone pitching your heart downwards, with tears weighing heavily behind your eyes until they free themselves and fall, uninhibited, during the last fifty pages.  Ishiguro is sparse with his words and guarded with emotion, both factors that feed into the weighty heaviness of the novel, the punch in your gut when the premise of the story is laid out in stark black and white before you and you have to stop pretending that these characters might chance upon happy endings.  Much like Ruth and Tommy and Kathy are, at the end, you’re resigned, not in the bitter, unsatisfied way but in the calm and peaceful way, with their fate and with yours as a reader who turns the last page and inhales sharply, wishing there was more, that the blank space beneath the final sentence was like the other blank spaces at the end of the other chapters — but what more Ishiguro could give can’t be known because Never Let Me Go is a book you read and realise its completion and wish, I wish I’d never read this, so I could experience it again for the very first time. [01]

The second read is no less powerful than the first, however, but the above sentiments about knots and stones and tears are heavier the second time around because you know the novel, the characters, the way the story unravels.  You know exactly what it is that Ruth and Tommy and Kathy were created for, and you know how their lives spin, what tugs at their hearts, how their friendship winds, so there’s no mystery about the facts, no denial about what Never Let Me Go is about.  The punch in your gut, however, isn’t any less softened; you don’t feel any less for Ruth or Tommy or Kathy than you did the first time around; and you don’t wish any less that things could be different for them and for you because the second read brings you closer to them, leads you to details you missed before, makes you stand even more in praise of Ishiguro and his spare storytelling that doesn’t miss a heartbeat.

And, now, with the adaptation just over three months away (and your faith restored somewhat in adaptations [02]), you can’t help but state flatly to yourself, I’m going to weep my way through this film.

[01]  Similar sentiments expressed by Carey Mulligan.
[02]  Admittedly, this is also more of a faith in the cast and the films they choose — Keira Knightley, particularly, because she was in both Pride and Prejudice and Atonement, both of which I loved, although I can’t vouch for the faithfulness of Pride and Prejudice because I never got over my loathing to finish that book.  Three attempts, and I’m fine with never having read it.  But, back to Never Let Me Go, the trailer has me convinced that this will be good.