Book Review and Dream

March 07, 2008

The first book that I’ve actually finished in almost six months was The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro. Like a couple of others that I had started and then abandoned, this one was tough to complete. I needed a finished book to keep from feeling stupid, so I persevered.

On the surface, it’s just a story of a pianist who comes to town to do a performance, and who gets bombarded by requests from the locals for little favors, to the point that he can’t keep up with his schedule, and is constantly missing what he was supposed to be doing. But it all happens in the weirdest of ways. It turns out that he’s unfamiliar with the city and the people are unfamiliar with him, dispite the fact that he apparently lives with a woman and kid there in town. At least once, he sees a scene taking place in a basement while he waits outside in a car. In one chapter, he seems to read the private thoughts of people to whom he talks. And there are lots of devices lifted right from the library of my dreams: familiar objects appear way out of place (His childhood family car and friends from England show up there in town.), inappropriate dress/nudity (He attends a dinner in pajamas, which come open exposing him while he speaks. No one thinks it’s odd.), and that old dream staple where you travel on and on and on to somewhere, but then when it’s time to go back, you’re right through a trap door back to where you started.

I expected a payoff at the end of the book, and I’m not really sure whether I got it or not. I’m glad I finished the book. At one time I misplaced it, and it was tough to not know if there was a payoff at the end. It would be a good book club read, because I would love to hear other people’s opinions of what all happened.

One night this week, I had a dream that used many similar techniques.

I was in Tiger Stadium for the occasion of a football game between LSU and Florida. I have lots of games set at fictionalized versions of Tiger Stadium, but this time it was the 1940s. LSU was expected to win by a couple of touchdowns.

I was walking through the underside of the stadium, trying to get to my seats. Rather than the concrete corridor that actually exists, we were funneled through hallways with tile floors and fluorescent lights. It wasn’t unlike a high school hallway. Being the 1940s, all the men were wearing those Bear Bryant hats and seersucker suits. Women were all in dresses and heels. It was very crowded, and we walked slowly but cheerfully through the crowd. People would run into friends, stop and chat, and hold up the flow, but no one really seemed to mind. I ran into several old college friends (all in their seersucker) and did the same thing to others.

We heard the game start, the first quarter end, the second quarter end, and the halftime show while walking underneath, trying to get to our seats. (I say “our,� but I’m not 100% certain that I was with anyone else.) I was getting frustrated, but I was seemingly the only one. Finally, I settled on a way to get through the crowd and to my seat.

I pulled my pecker out of my pants, and cleared my throat to draw some attention. The crowd started to part, slowly at first, and then more quickly. I left it hanging out of my pants, and like magic, I slid around the stadium in no time. When I got to the part where I leave the underbelly and walk up into the stadium bowl, I tucked my hog back into my pants, and went into the stadium without any trouble at all. Other than clearing my way, no one seemed to mind.