Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 1988
Genre Fiction
Origin UK
Publisher Vintage
ISBN-10 0679731725
ISBN-13 978-0679731726
My Copy airport bookstore paperback
First Read August 15, 2010

The Remains of the Day

I left for a 36-hour work trip thinking I'd be too busy for a book - but found myself buying something at an airport bookstore for the first time in my life. Thank goodness SFO has more than Dan Brown and James Patterson.

I'd read The Remains of the Day years ago, and remembered how lovely it seemed. It's a gorgeous book, small and quiet and charming and of course modestly sad. Ishiguro's unreliable narrator could have been a disastrous plot device, and in the hands of another author the narrator Stevens would be just insufferable. Instead, we root for him even as his self-delusion becomes more and more transparent.

Noted on August 15, 2010

It is sometimes said that butlers only truly exist in England. Other countries, whatever title is actually used, have only manservants. I tend to believe this is true. Continentals are unable to be butlers because they are as a breed incapable of the emotional restraint which only the English race are capable of. Continentals - and by and large the Celts, as you will no doubt agree - are as a rule unable to control themselves in moments of a strong emotion, and are thus unable to maintain a professional demeanour other than in the least challenging of situations. If I may return to my earlier metaphor - you will excuse my putting it so coarsely - they are like a man who will, at the slightest provocation, tear off his suit and his shirt and run about screaming. In a word, "dignity" is beyond such persons. We English have an important advantage over foreigners in this respect and it is for this reason that when you think of a great butler, he is bound, almost by definition, to be an Englishman.

Quoted on August 15, 2010

It seems increasingly likely that I really will undertake the expedition that has been preoccupying my imagination now for some days.

Quoted on August 15, 2010

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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