Thoughts by Ruth Ozeki, Viking 2013, 433 pages
Challenge: TOB Favorites
Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit / Time Travel
Type/Source: eBook / Library -Kindle
What It’s About: A fascinating story that interweaves across time and distance and offers up a few mind-benders and reality-suspension moments. A writer named Ruth, experiencing a lack of motivation in her current project, finds a package washed up on the beach of her remote Pacific Canadian island. Inside is a journal, a watch and a collection of letters written in French. I think the language is English essentially, but culturally Japanese ; the journal-ist is a young Japanese girl suffering from a tumultuous change in her standard of living and location. Her father lost his silicon-valley job in California and uprooted Nao to Japan – a foreign world to her. She writes as if she knows the reader, addresses her directly, tells her all about her life, her horrid school and the bullies there and also her great-grandmother, a 104 yo Buddhist nun. Ruth is the reader and takes on the challenge of being Nao’s friend. Across time, across the ocean, across practicality.
For the time being, Words scatter . . . Are they fallen leaves?
Thoughts: It’s a wonder it works. I’m sure for many, it doesn’t; but for me it does. There’s word play, dream movement, thoughts on the precarious nature of our world and the environment. There’s history, there’s violence, brutal brutal violence, and yet there is zen, and hopeful hope. I just adored Jika! I wasn’t so sure about Ruth, but she is going through her own growth spurt through doubt with Nao so it made sense to me. Oliver is a treat.
I keep thinking about this story. I think it will be one of those I remember and think about and grow more fond of as time goes on.
“She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.”
Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. (French pastry, however…)
To grasp this truly, every being that exists in the entire world is linked together as moments in time, and at the same time they exist as individual moments of time. Because all moments are the time being, they are your time being.—D gen Zenji, Uji
Up is down. Down is up.
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9 thoughts on “A Tale for the Time Being”
I liked this one less than her two previous novels.
exciting! this was my first.
Gosh, yeah, I really loved this. I need to reread it actually! I read it when it first came out and then haven’t returned to it since, but I’m curious how it would strike me some years on.
Hi Jenny, thank you for your comment. I had rather low expectations – maybe, more truthful admission is that I had none to little expectations. If I had known that she wrote this in her 80s, I bet I would have really loved it before I even started it!
I read this when it was pretty new and liked it a lot. You’re right that it’s a wonder it works. It seems like a book that could easily go very, very wrong.
I had ZERO idea what it was about, to be honest and the first paragraph rather surprised me!
I enjoyed her two previous novels on audio, but never got around to this one. It’s still on my list…
It worked for me too.
I read this one with my book group and absolutely loved it. I have one more by her. It has . . . a potato on the cover? It looks so boring I never would have picked it up in a store but I grabbed it because I want to give the author a second go. This makes me even more excited to read it.