follow-up: Remains of the Day

Our Readers Guild met this week, to discuss the book. It had been a while since I finished it, and I was yet again reminded of how awful my memory is.

[Which, could we take a sidebar and talk about memory for a moment? And how the only memories that stick with me are either images or emotional impressions. Is this how memory works for everyone? I guess, if I’m being fair, I can also recall many random facts – but I also fail to recall very many. Ideas only stick in my head if they have a story attached. (This explains, slightly, my tendency to retell every life event as Epic Drama.) I’d love to hear how memory works for you.]

Apparently, I considered the book incredibly depressing. But I had failed to notice the subtle nuances in the last few pages of the book, and the (trumpets of obviousness) paragraph where the book title comes from, which is challenging him not to look back in despair on his life but to seize what remains.

My favorite part of the discussion, however, was how all five us us (single women) threw our hands up in the air and exclaimed with shrieks of frustration when discussing this narrator’s apparent inability to realize that this woman, his co-worker, is making herself as available as possible without being indecent. And how, the one time he is rebuked, not romantically, but when she cancels their friendly chat over tea because she is feeling ill and not up for company, he interprets that as the end of their friendship and essentially avoids her after that point.

Guys, are you listening? Signals get mixed sometimes. Don’t give up so easily.

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