A Tale for the Time Being


By Ruth Ozeki
432 pp
GL Rating: 4.5

Before I weigh in with my (brief) thoughts on this novel I should caveat them by saying that the period in which I read and then stopped reading it coincided with a move to a new neighborhood, as well as other assorted life dramas. It’s been a stressful couple of months for me, it may have skewed my feelings about the book in a negative direction. 

On the other hand, it might just be a mediocre novel. 

I made it to the 155 page mark before I decided to stop. 

The novel, a finalist for the Man Booker award, has interesting elements, including its message-in-a-bottle premise, and I put it down with a whisper of anxiety that it really takes off at the 200 page mark, or the 300 page mark. All of my reserves of patience, however, have been exhausted. 

Ozeki’s language is very prosaic; occasionally bordering on stilted. This makes the book’s pacing, which I found to be somewhat glacial, harder to bear. 

The story is told from the perspective of two characters: Nao, a Japanese teenager, and Ruth, an Asian-American writer. Neither of them were particularly interesting. They did not say or feel or think things that surprised or delighted or intrigued me. Rather, they felt typical or obvious in a way that was enervating. Beyond the two protagonists, characterization in general was a shortcoming in this novel. 

In short: avoid.