Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go follows a group of students growing up at a school called Hailsham. None of the students come from or have traditional families… so they grow up among their peers and the Guardians of the seemingly idyllic institution.  As Kathy H tells her story, we begin to learn that these students are somewhat different to ‘normal’ children. One of the Guardians, Miss Lucy, decides to abandon the rules and tells them the truth about their existence. They are fifteen years old when they realise their destiny has been set for them; their role in the world has already been determined. The students accept their fate and embrace the system in which they are part of and go about their lives until they are called up. Meanwhile, a rumour shadows their adolescence – and this idea follows them into adulthood. They begin to let themselves believe that there might be a temporary way out of their future and they pursue this welcome legend until the bitter end.

Never Let Me Go is a chilling story about people as machines and the predetermined path we often wind up following. Ishiguro’s novel is charged with anguish and tension, and with each page turned we are reminded of the vulnerability and fragility of life. Never Let Me Go asks piercing questions about humanity and about the role of the individual in society. Ishiguro holds up a dark mirror to the world and reflected back is a terrifying, dystopian reality. By the last page, you’ll go one of two ways – either your heart will break or your anger will surface. 

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The New Wave – The Old Market, Brighton

(For the Public Review)

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Four tour de forces have crash-landed in Brighton after doing the rounds in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe. As part of the Brighton Comedy Festival, The Invisible Dot presents The New Wave, featuring Jamie Demetriou, Claudia O’Doherty, Liam Williams & Adam Hess.

Hess opens the show with an energetic – and yet somewhat apologetic – bang. Poor Adam is eaten up about a break up. Lucy, whom he fondly dubs “Lucifer”, has dumped him by text and his act is primarily centred on the injustice of it all. Saying that, the bit that stuck out for me was Hess’s impression of a German (who had just demolished twelve apples), on a plane, watching The Sixth Sense, and his reaction when he gets to the twist at the end of the film. Brilliant.

Next up we have Claudia O’Doherty who has been commissioned by the National Chair Association to… well… talk about chairs. This may sound odd. And yes, it is very strange indeed. However, she is probably the best ambassador for a chair that you will ever come across. O’Doherty practically bounces off the walls (and the chair) and her insane energy levels are infectious and unsettling. One could imagine she’s on a colourful concoction of amphetamines. Despite being totally ridiculous, she offers a clever and intelligent set, with ‘unique’ being the only word that can be used to describe her set.

Moving from one potentially intoxicated artist to the next, the third comedian is Jamie Demetriou and his nerve-jangling portrayal of “Michael”. Through a series of enforced audience-interactions, the audience witnesses Demetriou and his front-row victim play Musical Chairs and Chinese Whispers. It’s all very random and disconcerting. A bit like the audience is watching a breakdown.

Liam Williams closes the show – an endearing comic genius with a deeply dry outlook on the mundanity of life. This wondrous wit made for laugh out loud on several occasions. Of particular note is Williams’ take on mental disorders. He contemplates suicide in the same way he considers going for a jog every day… he’s just not going to get round to it. Likewise his post-coital epiphanies and alterative dating suggestions are certainly memorable!

All in all, The New Wave offers something different and if you check these comics out, you’ll certainly had a good night out – you’ll smile, chuckle and perhaps even let out an occasional ‘LOL’. Or you might run away and hide.

Sir Terry Pratchett and Friends

City Reads marks my first taste of Brighton’s cultural life. And what better introduction than Sir Terry Pratchett – a living literary legend who walks both the Disc and sphere worlds. The crowd seeps in to a flurry of fiddles and an accordion. Men and women representing all generations, from all walks of life filter in and, as the auditorium fills (to the brim, I might add), you can sense the electricity in our expectation.

In struts Terry, to an enthusiastic and heartfelt applause, sporting a black cowboy hat and looking very dapper in a navy and white pinstriped suit jacked. The ‘…and friends’ which accompany the author on stage are Rob Wilkins and Rod Brown from production company, Narrativia.

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So where does he get his wonderful ideas from and how does his brilliant mind work? I’m sorry but I can’t tell you. For aspiring writers looking for guidance, I know that’s a kick in the guts – but for Terry, his characters ‘just turn up’. He sits and doodles in his head and as he begins to carve out a good story in his imagination, he knows words will follow. Where does the magic come from? He doesn’t know. But he talks about the ‘dark mirror’ in his mind; the kaleidoscope-esque looking glass which allows him to turn the inspiration of real life into an array of miraculous imaginings.

Sir Terry once described the writing process as follows;

“it’s like you’ve got a hand-glider on your back, and you’re looking out to the horizon, you can see where you’ve got to go, and as you run down the hill, and as the wind whips your hair and lifts your wings, up you soar into free flight…”

Aside from those brief summaries, the flow of the conversation is pretty hard to keep up with; it chops and changes direction with every other sentence. The talk meanders around various points of focus. The unruly interview style perhaps reflects the fact that the interviewee in question possesses an incredible imagination, one which cannot (and shouldn’t ever) be tamed.

As one might expect, there are a few plugs hidden in the otherwise obscure content of the talk, but the trio do reveal a few secrets that will no doubt appeal to the Pratchett-fanatics out there (and did appeal to the ones within the Dome – there were lots of ‘whoops’). We got to hear an exclusive reading of his new novel ‘Raising Steam’ due for release in November. And when the ‘in conversation with’ turned more into a production meeting, subsequently and accidentally transforming us into flies in the aisles, we discovered that Narrativia are currentlydeveloping Dodger. So keep an eye out! And – because I know there will be a lot of you out there that care – how is he?

“I’m happy and I’m going to keep on going… I’m just gonna keep going until a certain someone turns up… I have no fear of dying. And when you have no fear of dying, the world is your mollusc…”

As one member of the audience cried out – “Terry Pratchett, we love you!”. Sir TP is well loved and that was certainly evident in both the reception as he walked on stage and the standing ovation which closed the event.

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