What captured me initially was the calm surface to the dialogue, while underneath you could feel the bubbling drama and tension. This reminds me of the very traditional form of Japanese art both visual and landscape...it's very thoughtfully constructed and pre-determined with objects, shapes, and figures well thought out in advance...but the effects are very dynamic when it's completed. It's a controlled vigor, if you will. And in An Artist of the Floating World we sense that underwater feeding frenzy going on through Ono's relationship with his daughters and friends and the veiled way in which they converse with one another. I love this approach, too, because it draws us in deeper and makes us thirsty for more.
I couldn't help but be drawn to Ono sympathetically, because as the product of an interracial marriage I have had the opportunity to see the "old school" regime and the new school of thought collide...and with interesting results, not unlike Ono's situation.
Who is really right? Which way is really the better way? I feel bad for the way Ono's associates treat him after the end of the war...because I feel like Ono did what he felt was best given the circumstances and his upbringing. This is a novel of repentance and self-awareness that we all are in need of employing for ourselves, regardless of whether or not we are involved in a World War.
We should constantly strive to be the best we can in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. The only way we can achieve this is through sincere self evaluation. Will others look at us and judge? You bet they will, but they also don't know the whole story nor do they understand all the circumstances in which we ARE, if that makes sense. That's why I sympathize so much with the protagonist. I see his daughters (yes, I get the fact that one of them is dying to be married off so her future is secure), but I also think they see their father with tunnel vision. In the end, Ono "repents" and his daughter is married off and everyone is happy. I daresay one should not have to make sincere apologies public for others to view him in a more positive light.
I really enjoyed this read. It was captivating and I felt like I learned a lot about the Japanese way of life. It is so different from American life and the American view of things. I have always felt that elders should be treated with the kind of respect that I grew up with (a very polite child who offers their seat to their elder, makes a plate for them and when they are finished eating, the child should take the plate from their elder). I admit I was eager to discipline Ichiro for his rowdy and impolite behavior, but again, that is Ishiguro's way of showing us how the American way is preferred post-World War.
And, maybe I just have no idea how the Japanese culture is at all. So, Katie, if I'm totally out of line, feel free to correct me. :)