I've read several of Kazuo Ishiguro's books before, so I picked up When We Were Orphans for the car (I play CDs of library books in the car).
There's something about the narrator, perhaps his total delusional self-centeredness, that makes me want to smack him upside the head, so to speak. I'm at a point where he's gone back to Shanghai, where he'd lived as a boy until his parents disappeared (and he was sent to live with an aunt in England), as an adult, 18 years later, and he's trying to solve his parents' disappearance.
But he's trying to do this against the backdrop of the Japanese invasion/occupation in the mid-30s, and he just doesn't seem to get that after 18 years, it's pretty darned unlikely that any kidnapper would keep his parents alive, and also that the war might just be more important than his parents (especially since 18 years is a long time to be missing). How do you tell soldiers who are on the very front line that they should drop what they're doing (trying to hold the line) and help you sneak behind the line to find where you think your parents were 18 years earlier?
The book is weirdly set in a world where there are famous detectives, not fictional detectives (though, of course, they are since this is a fiction), but within the world of the text, real detectives. And I'm just not buying it. I bet very few people could name even a couple detectives for their fame in the real world (as opposed to fiction). Yes, I can probably still vaguely recall some LA detectives because they were witnesses in a couple of cases. But they aren't known because they were really good detectives. (The ones in the OJ case, for example, seemed to have botched some stuff. And the ones in the Rodney King case did worse.)
I'm guessing I'm about half-way through, and I'm trying to decide if I should just be done or actually finish. I rarely give myself permission to stop a book before I finish. What's stopping me here is that Ishiguro is generally worth the effort. Is this one, though?
In other news, I haven't finished grading, but I did read Water for Elephants and it was GREAT! You should all read it.
Yes, I am working slowly on the grading, too.