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Old 06-07-2016, 10:55 PM
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Default TTBC June 2016: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

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The Romans have long since departed, and Britain is steadily declining into ruin. But at least the wars that once ravaged the country have ceased.

The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge and war.
The Buried Giant seems to be about quite a bit more than this though! A mythic retelling of the legend of King Arthur, a haunting rumination on memory and guilt.
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Old 06-08-2016, 05:47 PM
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Ooh, this has been on my radar for a bit. I might jump in for this!
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Old 06-08-2016, 08:14 PM
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Currently 9% of the way through this book. Which is the first page of Chapter Two.
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Old 06-08-2016, 09:00 PM
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I forgot to take my copy when I went back home this past weekend, so I'll have to go from memory. i really liked the climax, when they revealed the true purpose of the dragon. There isn't really a black and white ending where you find out justice prevails - it's more of a balance between two nuclear options. On the one hand you have the false peace between the Saxons and the Britons, where everyone lives in relative peace but the Britons get off scott free for their numerous atrocities. On the other hand, the memory fog is lifted but it results in a literal genocide, since we know through the context of history that the Britons end up being wiped out by the Saxons. The most relevant parallel is the repentant cheater in a relationship. It's obviously unfair for the party who's been cheated on, but letting them know would also alter the relationship for obvious reasons. Would the relationship be better off because of the lie, or is the truth so important that it's worth destroying the relationship over?
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Old 06-09-2016, 09:53 AM
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Is there a specific reason why Axl insists on calling Beatrice princess every time he speaks? It's really annoying
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Old 06-09-2016, 10:28 AM
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He just wants to be excused.
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Old 06-09-2016, 10:45 AM
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Probably more Han Solo than Cartoon Link though.
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Old 06-10-2016, 10:18 PM
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I went ahead and picked this up! I'm going to start opening it and reading the words inside soon.
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Old 06-11-2016, 02:42 PM
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One chapter in, and I'm really digging it so far. I like the kind of mystical mythical vibe of the narration and setting, the treatment of the strange memory. And the chapter ends with them setting out on this journey to meet a person they don't remember, and they don't know where he is. So far very much up my alley.
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:46 PM
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I actually started reading this a few days ago and just stumbled across this thread. So! Coincidences!

I may put it down for a bit to start and finish A View From The Cheap Seats - I love me some Gaiman - but I'm having a good time with it so far.
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Old 06-11-2016, 06:51 PM
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At the halfway point, feels a lot like "Gene Wolfe writes the Chronicles of Prydain".
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Old 06-13-2016, 01:49 PM
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I just finished part I! I'm rather enjoying it! Anticipating various twists on who their son actually is and who Axl actually is. The safe money would be on "Wistan" and "another old knight of Arthur's court". I'm also guessing Axl calls Beatrice "princess" because, though they've forgotten, she is in fact actually a princess. Can't think of any particular characters from the legends they would match off the top of my head, or how hard I should bother looking down that road. No actual spoilers for the first half of the book, just my guesses.
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Old 06-14-2016, 08:27 AM
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I'm pretty much on the same wavelength as you or the son has been dead for some time
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:51 PM
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Well, my first instinct of the son was right. Overall, I really didn't care too much for the book. I enjoyed the climax though, and the ending wasn't too surprising. It was all very meh for me though
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:55 PM
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Lol you forgot to mark spoilers for the other people bro
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by masterthes View Post
Well, my first instinct of the son was right. Overall, I really didn't care too much for the book. I enjoyed the climax though, and the ending wasn't too surprising. It was all very meh for me though
looking forward to your recoes for the next few months
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Old 06-14-2016, 10:12 PM
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Quote:
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Overall, I really didn't care too much for the book. I enjoyed the climax though, and the ending wasn't too surprising. It was all very meh for me though
I actually was pretty lukewarm on the book as well, but I really liked the climax. The whole time you're thinking of how life is weird and shitty because of this mist, so when they decide to get rid of it, you think they're going on a heroic journey and shit. Then they find out the purpose of the mist and the benefits of the mist might genuinely outweigh the drawbacks, because them forgetting so much really helps them forget the heinous shit that's gone down in the past. THEN, when they actually DO lift the mist, Wistan's goes, "We're going to fuck you guys up. Everyone you know is about to get wrecked." That's basically the worst outcome from what was supposed to be a simple visit to their son.
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Old 06-15-2016, 05:21 AM
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Finished it! As the book reveals what has been going on, you get a pretty good idea where the book will go at the end.

I kept waiting for the reappearance of the plucked chicken baby dragon that bit/stung Edwin but I guess that didn't happen! And what happened to the poor goat, did they just leave it staked to the ground on top of the mountain?
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Old 06-18-2016, 02:47 PM
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I finished it and really liked it, overall.

I liked the mythical, detached air, the subtlety, the mystery, the clues. It was less deft than other works as far as mystery and bread crumbs and such, but it also had that air of legend and folklore to it that others lacked, so it fit. The revelation of the backstory was a bit clumsy in that regard since there wasn't really a consistent or solid way the memory loss worked, but since it was more mythical/allegorical it wasn't a huge deal.

In a more novelistic sense, I did like the way things ended up all tying together. The macguffin of the journey to the son leading into this whole greater quest, being central to the theme and the worldbuilding and even to the macguffin.

Sometimes the dialogue got rather bloated and, my specific complaint, repetitive. Sir Gawain was the worst offender by far but not the only one. There were several pages of dialogue or monologue from any given character where they'd frequently repeat entire exchanges they had just said the page before. Perhaps Ishiguro is playing with the memory thing in a subtle way, but as a reader it doesn't quite sell and gets kind of annoying. Also I just found Gawain annoying in general, the way he rambled on and went off on insane schizophrenic tangents. Even after understanding why, it didn't really make it feel any better.

The ending came a bit out of nowhere, what with its sudden allegorical weight. Not that it had been teased before, but it kind of muddled the line between symbolic myth and modern allegory and felt a little out of place. It casts a bit of doubt on the earlier parts of the work. Maybe that was the point? I guess tonally it felt like a shift. Or maybe it didn't.
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Old 06-27-2016, 11:29 PM
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I really didn't like it. Very repetitive and boring and Wistain was the only character I kind of cared about, and even then just sort of. The "princess" thing drove me up the wall as well.
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Old 06-28-2016, 07:51 AM
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I just started it. Don't have any feelings yet. Except for some trepidation after reading this thread...
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Old 07-03-2016, 03:19 PM
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Get spoilery!
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Old 07-04-2016, 02:58 PM
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Nobody? Dang! I liked it, anyway.
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Old 07-04-2016, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
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Nobody? Dang! I liked it, anyway.
I still havent finished! I need to get to it!
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Old 07-17-2016, 01:33 AM
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I finished it. It's different. I liked it. Makes me want to dig into the Arthur myth some. I get the feeling there's quite a bit of symbolism I'm missing. Or only guessing at.
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Old 07-17-2016, 01:33 AM
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So, do you think they got to the island together?
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Old 07-17-2016, 08:03 AM
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I liked it. I expected it to stay at vague Gene Wolfe levels but the mysteries get resolved pretty regularly.

I like how "death as a boat ride" parallels both Arthur to Avalon and Charon's ferry. And no, I don't think they get to the island together. Their relationship paralleled the country: lack of memories made for fuzzy happy relations, full recall brought back their divisive issues. It's really hard to be happy with full knowledge.
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Old 07-17-2016, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falselogic View Post
Makes me want to dig into the Arthur myth some. I get the feeling there's quite a bit of symbolism I'm missing. Or only guessing at.
Ditto. I used to know a lot of it quite well but now it's just fuzzy memories in my brain. There is so much symbolism in those myths.
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Old 07-17-2016, 09:26 AM
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They didn't get to the island together. Nobody gets to the island together. No matter how happy you are or how much in love, everyone dies alone, in the end. But your journey together is important.

Good call on the parallel between them and England, Grignr, where full memory is also memory of pain and suffering. But they diverge in one thing. In the end, the Saxons promise to conquer and ravage the land as revenge for the past, for grudges held. But while Axl and Beatrice recall their past grievances and pain, they accept and move past those, their long happy years together having patched the wounds of memory. So perhaps it's a more hopeful ending for the countries than we think. Maybe Axl and Beatrice hint that despite the betrayal and anger of the past, years of peace could still make a difference in whether the Saxons return to arms and bring war back to the land.



And yeah it made me want to dig into Arthurian myth again. I was trying to find out if Axl represented an actual knight of the round table from legend, or was just for this story. Or how much of the Briton/Saxon war, the treaty, the betrayal was from original tellings. My impression was that it was very far removed from the typical Monmouth/Troyes/TH White tellings of Arthur and closer to a stab at the Historical possibility of a king of Britons of the age.
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Old 07-17-2016, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grignr View Post
I liked it. I expected it to stay at vague Gene Wolfe levels but the mysteries get resolved pretty regularly.

I like how "death as a boat ride" parallels both Arthur to Avalon and Charon's ferry. And no, I don't think they get to the island together. Their relationship paralleled the country: lack of memories made for fuzzy happy relations, full recall brought back their divisive issues. It's really hard to be happy with full knowledge.
I didnt think of the parallel between the divisiveness of the country and relationship. That's a good connection. I didn't think they were going to be together on the island not because of the problems in their life but due to the Christian belief that there is no marriage in heaven.

I think Edwin represents the future of the nation and in him we find both the promise to hate all Britons (a la Wistan) and to remember the kindness of Britons (a la Beatrice). This synthesis of Saxon and Briton leaves me hopeful for the nation.

Why do you think the book was called the Buried Giant?
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