Nocturnes: Five stories of music and nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro is a collection of music themed short stories. As a Ishiguro fan and music lover, this novel aroused my curiosity. I ended-up being surprised because it seemed so different from previous books of his I have read.
Each of the short stories have a musical element, however, not always the main theme. One story is about a former well-known vocalist encountered in Italy by a young guitar player whose mother owned bootlegged copies of his records. Another, centers on a single man visiting a couple whose marriage is on the rocks. There is a story about a struggling composer writing songs who meets and elderly couple who perform, a musician who has plastic surgery in effort to achieve success, and a cello player who encounters an elderly music mentor who cannot play a note.
Ishiguro has cleverly connected his short stories like notes on a musical staff. Each truth told here reflects his creative power to use an underlying theme to imagine many different scenarios. All of the tales are well-written and memorable. I read the book twice because my first reading didn’t fully absorb all that was here to learn. I liked it better the second time around, but I am not as keen on this novel as others I have read by Ishiguro.
As a musician myself, it brought back memories of times I spent writing, performing, and listening to music. For that I am grateful. I think most people would find something to relate to in these short stories. After all, isn’t music the universal language?