A Tale For The Time Being

You might remember earlier this year this book being on my wish-list. It wasn't long after I'd posted about wanting it that I decided to just buy it anyway. I would have read it right away if my reading list hadn't gotten interrupted so often. But here we finally are!
A Tale For The Time Being doesn't mean "A Story For Right Now" but rather "A Story About A Being That Exists In A Plain of Time." For instance, we are time beings. Our pets are time beings. Our houses and cars and clothes and food, the trees, mountains, rivers, cities, etc - all of these things are time beings. That may seem really weird and trippy to some people, but this book is heavily influenced by Buddhism and philosophy - and when I say that suddenly it starts making a little more sense, doesn't it?

A Tale For The Time Being is about an author named Ruth who lives on the Pacific Coast of Canada, and while out strolling along the beach one day, comes across a plastic bag filled with family mementos and the private diary of a troubled Japanese school girl, presumably from the 2011 Tsunami. Ruth becomes entranced by Nao's stories of being bullied, her suicidal father, Nao's grandmother who is a Buddhist nun, and Nao's great uncle (a WW2 kamikaze pilot) and further delays writing her own book to find out how Nao's story ends.

This novel was very complicated and intelligent. I've always been obsessed with Japanese culture, but I'm always learning more and more about it. This novel shed a fresh light on a lot of what I thought I knew: I wrote a lot of personal notes while reading it - it changed my perspective on Japan, suicide, reading, writing, etc. That's what a good book will do - change the way you think. All the same, I don't think this book will stick out in my memory in any definitive way. I wasn't disappointed with it - that's not what I mean. It's very smart, and it had the potential to wind up being very "weird," but it didn't go there, and I'm pretty grateful for that. But I know if someone were to ask me 6 months from now what I thought of it, I doubt I could give them anything but the vaguest (even vaguer than this) of answers.

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