All posts tagged Nocturne

Short Stories Challenge – Nocturne by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music And Nightfall

Published November 29, 2014 by bibliobeth


What’s Nocturne all about?:

Nocturne explores how physical appearance can be everything to be noticed in the Hollywood celebrity world. Our main character, Steve, is a talented saxophonist who has never made it big musically speaking until he is told that it is due to the way he looks.

What did I think?:

Nocturne could quite possibly be my favourite story in this collection. The theme surrounding all these tales appears to involve music and the jaded aspirations of the characters that feel that they have never really achieved their dream. Take our main character Steve, a brilliant saxophonist who has played with several bands and discovers real beauty in his music, yet according to his agent and soon to be ex-wife, it is because he is not blessed with the “movie-star looks,” that seem to be crucial to securing fame and fortune in the fickle Hollywood world. For example, in the words of his painfully honest agent:

“Billy’s ugly all right. But he’s sexy, bad guy ugly. You, Steve, you’re… Well, you’re dull, loser ugly. The wrong kind of ugly.”

Charming right? Steve does not even find comfort from his wife, who is leaving him for a guy she has held a torch for for many years. She embraces him, steps back regarding him deeply and considers, then actually agrees with his agent! But all is not lost – the man she is leaving him for feels bad about the whole situation (stealing his wife etc) and has offered to pay for him to have a full facial transformation under the best plastic surgeon that money can buy, a Dr Boris, surgeon to the stars who lets his patients recover on a special floor of an exclusive hotel where the press hounds cannot get to them. At first, Steve is appalled by the idea of changing his face to kick-start his career, but eventually he gives in and finds himself in the hotel, neighbour to no less than Lindy Gardner, a notorious celebrity who has a fabulous career, fantastic bank balance, a fresh face every so often and a few divorces under her belt. Steve’s agent is practically salivating when he finds out and insists that he remains on friendly terms with Lindy, as she could do so much for his career. I particularly love this quote from Steve which I find incredibly poignant regarding today’s celebrity culture:

“The week before, I’d been a jazz musician. Now I was just another pathetic hustler, getting my face fixed in a bid to crawl after the Lindy Gardners of this world into vacuous celebrity.”

They do become friends of sorts, and have a few interesting conversations about the celebrity world. Steve even gets the confirmation he has always dreamed of when Lindy listens to one of his CD’s and pronounces him “a genius.” The rest of the story is hilarious in parts, as the two set off on adventures around the hotel yet also bitter sweet as it comes near the time when the bandages are due to come off. For me, it was a beautiful and funny account of what one man will do to achieve his lifelong ambition. I felt myself switching from different emotions while reading it – some parts made me quite cross, others quite sad and others I just had to laugh at! Wonderful writing style as always with Kazuo Ishiguro who continues to surprise me with every story I read.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Challenge: Short Stories October to December

Published October 9, 2014 by bibliobeth

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It’s that time again short story fans! This is what I’ll be reading short story wise from now until the end of 2014.

Week beginning 6th October

 Looking Up Vagina by Jon McGregor from the collection This Isn’t The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You

Week beginning 13th October

The Pool by Daphne Du Maurier from the collection The Breaking Point

Week beginning 20th October

Partial Eclipse by Graham Joyce from the collection Tales For A Dark Evening

Week beginning 27th October

The Fly And Its Effect Upon Mr Bodley by Michel Faber from the collection The Apple: New Crimson Petal Stories

Week beginning 3rd November

Busted by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Week beginning 10th November

Nocturne by Kazuo Ishiguro from the collection Nocturnes: Five Stories Of Music And Nightfall

Week beginning 17th November

The Coffin-Maker’s Daughter by Angela Slatter from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Week beginning 24th November

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft

Week beginning 1st December

The Common Enemy by Natasha Cooper from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Week beginning 8th December

Note To Sixth-Grade Self by Julie Orringer from the collection How To Breathe Underwater

Week beginning 15th December

A Terribly Strange Bed by Wilkie Collins from the collection Stories To Get You Through The Night

Week beginning 22nd December

Mrs Todd’s Shortcut by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew

Week beginning 29th December

Everything I Knew About My Family On My Mother’s Side by Nathan Englander from the collection What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank