A Tale for the Time Being (Ozeki)

This is probably the most perfectly titled book I’ve ever read. I relished its necessary exploration of the concept of time and the meaning of Nao (the name of one of the protagonists) and now, the temporal word. The story is perfectly interwoven, the characters are vivid, and the emotions are genuine. The dichotomies here are endless, and that’s part of the point. (Any book that has an Appendix that explains Schrodinger’s Cat is bound to have a lot of them.) Even the cat, Pesto, is fully realized. This is a book fully aware of and fully in need of its meta level. The other protagonist is not only named Ruth, but she’s also a novelist.

A few quibbles. Nao’s narration rings false at the beginning – too forced. Perhaps this is deliberate in order to reflect her transformation. If so, the transition is too sudden (and very much welcome). Then there’s the Chekhovian ending, a kind of celebration of now with the familiar (and welcome and appropriate) refrain about the need to continue living. Between that and the large amounts of exposition at the end, the conclusion feels like a let down, albeit a small one.

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