Not since our brunch last March to discuss John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines have we had this many people join Jenn (Lost in a Great Book) & I for brunch, and had so much to say about that month’s read! We originally wanted to check out another brunch spot, but given the large crowd, the original small venue just wouldn’t do so we headed to the very busy Mildred’s Temple Kitchen in Liberty Village to host our chat. Jenn and I had the pleasure of enjoying the company of Chandra (Dreaming in Red), her roomie Mahak, Kate (@kateplummer), Dana (editorialeyes), my good friend & 2nd cousin Jamie, Rhiannon (The Diary of a Bookworm) and her adorable baby Sybil (aka the youngest member of Brunch Book Club).
As per the usual drill, since this is a discussion post, we will be talking about the novel A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki so this is your SPOILER WARNING.
Honestly, there was so much discussed that even though I tried to tape the conversation amidst our brunch-eating, baby-cooing and catch-up-chatting so I could remember for this wrap-up post, there is still way too much content to put it all down in words and doing it justice without writing a novel with everyone’s thoughts on this book. All the aspects of this somewhat polarizing, generally liked novel was delved into from the bullying, Buddhism and the bond between reader & writer. That’s not even beginning to get into the metaphysical moment of it all. I truly had no idea that this book was going there, and I had said to Jamie previously that “I liked it until it got weird”.
At the time that I was reading this book, it hadn’t even occurred to me the depth of the reader/writer relationship. It wasn’t until Dana, Jenn and Chandra were talking about whether the story had been Ruth’s the whole time or not. I had just found the husband, Oliver, to be incredibly irritating and not-supportive and yet they saw him as the one that kept pushing her to keep going; that she’s the writer so she has to keep going to make the story appear and develop. I think Chandra and I had some mixed feelings on the relative ease to which character-Ruth could just change the story and get involved right into Nao’s world.
For the longest time, I was convinced that Nao was Ruth. There was so much emphasis on her fading memory and as Chandra reminded me, her mother had Alzheimer’s so it could very well run in their family. I was positive that Ruth had Alzheimer’s and that she had found her own journal as a child, and was re-living it that way. Dana believes that air of mystery and uncertainty might have been intentional to keep the reader wondering.
Oh, there is so much more that we talked about, like…
- ..how we felt it was obvious that Nao’s father was trying to buy the underwear and save her from further embarrassment
- ..how the footnotes on the Japanese words weren’t necessarily accurate (Chandra has spent time living in Japan)
- ..how it’s interesting to have something as major as 9/11 happen but when Ruth & Oliver call back in to their remote BC island, nobody knew what was going on
- ..how Ruth took on Nao’s journal as something so personal, that Nao’s use of “you” was her singularly but Oliver kept trying to pull her out of it so it included as a plural “you”. She kept fretting on translating French herself when they knew people who could help.
- ..how in the end, Haruki #1 was so similar to Haruki #2 in so many ways
This was probably one of the best books to have started our new year of Brunch Book Club, eliciting so many points of discussion. I honestly could keep going on and on, but share in the comments what you thought of this book! And/or link up your reviews!
Will you be joining us for our February read of Cory Doctorow’s Pirate Cinema?