Last year I barely read at all. I just couldn’t sit still, couldn’t find anything that captured my attention. I spent the whole year up to my neck in video games; tuning in, dropping out. But this week I’ve been reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro and it’s light-hearted and earnest and all the things that I want from a novel. It’s reminded me what novels are capable of.
Remember last week when I said I feel online again, all systems go? Well, this is the book to blame for that. And so I’ve found myself in love with stories and literature and reading all over again—reading in the morning and in the middle of the night. But if I was absolutely honest here—perhaps cringingly, painfully honest—then it’s more than love that I’ve found in this book.
I’ve found…purpose? Ew.
I know this sounds cheesy as hell but reading Klara and the Sun reminds that ah, yes this is what I should be doing—the writing, the reading, a book sat open on every surface in our home. I want to be lost in eight books at once, surrounded by incomprehensible notes in the margins. I want every book to grab me by the lapel and take me hostage. I want to scour every corner of this world for writers and I want them to show me the kindest, strangest, weirdest things. No preaching! No answers! I want books and stories that make my head spin with questions until I topple over and feel nauseous.
It’s in moments like this that I remember: this is what I was meant to do. This is what everything else is in service of.
I assume type designers feel this way when they see a beautiful letter that they’ve never seen before—their senses perk up and they can now see why they’ve spent the last month worrying about an @. They can see the genius in each stroke of this strange new typeface and every difficult problem that had to be circumnavigated over an incredibly long period of time.
Or perhaps this how musicians feel when they appreciate a song. (I remember years ago Trent Reznor talking about Newjack by Justice and how it was an excellent song because of the sheer technical chops required to get it sounding the way it does. Oh, how long it would’ve taken to program!)
That’s how I see Klara and the Sun.
The writing isn’t romantic or flamboyant in the way that I usually like. In fact, quoting it is pretty tough because there’s few sentences that stand out and give you that one-two literature punch to the gut. Instead, it’s the characters, the momentum, the open vein of pure empathy that’s on display here. Every person in the novel feels like a person. Human. With dreams, regrets, difficulties, and foibles. (Oh, the foibles!)
So: this dumb book about a robot reminds me that there are stories yet to be read, characters waiting to be written. It’s reminded me that it’s difficult work—to care so much and so deeply at this scale, in this peculiar way of scratching letters on paper and binding them up together in great stacks.
But this is what I was meant to do. I think.