Kazuo Ishiguro is best known for his novels The Remains of the Day, The Unconsoled and Never Let Me Go.
Not that there should be any doubt about that. Never Let Me Go is a transcendent book for the ages, it was afterall featured on Time’s list of the 100 greatest books since 1925.
Nocturnes is Ishiguro’s first collection of short stories, after six novels. He has said in interviews that he conceived the book holistically, almost as a piece of music in five movements. Like a cycle, the collection begins and ends in the same place – Italy – and it contains modulations of tone that would be awkward within a single narrative. The opening story, “Crooner”, establishes a mood of quiet melancholy. Tony Gardner, an ageing American singer, comes to Venice with his wife, Lindy. He hires Jan, a guitarist from a band in the Piazza San Marco, to accompany him while he serenades his wife from a gondola beneath their hotel window. […]
All the narrators in Nocturnes sound roughly similar and the collection is saved from monotony by Ishiguro’s subtle shifts of register. The second story, “Come Rain or Come Shine”, is largely farcical, involving a man impersonating a dog in an effort to cover up a mistake. The third story is more refl ective before the fourth , “Nocturne”, reintroduces an element of absurdity. A talented saxophonist whose wife has left him is persuaded to have facial surgery to make him more marketable. He meets Lindy Gardner from the opening story (recently divorced from Tony) in the exclusive wing of the hotel where they have both been sent to recuperate. The story contains the collection’s funniest moment, as the saxophonist finds himself embarrassed on a stage with one arm up a turkey.