Content Warning for death, suicide, sexual assault, bullying, and violence
Spoilers for A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
I first would like to start out these posts by talking about the relationship between the work and the reader as in Nao reading her Great Uncle’s letters and diary, Ruth reading Nao’s diary and me reading A Tale For The Time Being. The last one because I am a time being and I strongly related to this novel. Obviously this novel deals with some very intense subjects and while in the interview Ruth Ozeki mentioned that her reasoning for that is because bullying but more specifically cyber bullying is a real concern for her. I feel however that another reason for these topics or even the way the novel is written is due to Ruth wanting to make the magic that happens even more magical. I don’t think it’s possible to read this novel and not have any magic happen.
In the first level of this magic is Nao/us reading her Great Uncle’s, Haruki #1, last words. Nao is clearly interested in them because he was a Kamikaze Pilot and later because he had experienced bullying from his officers, which are both things that are playing a big role in her life due to both her father, Haruki #2 and herself having suicidal thoughts, and her own bullying from her classmates and teacher.
Then, in the second level you have Ruth/us/Oliver reading Nao’s “last” words. Ruth’s concern for Nao is not only because of the Tsunami and Naos suicidal talk but also because Ruth can relate to Naos feelings of loss in identity, of a parent, and home (I talk more about this in Theme Three: Lost and Found).
Lastly,in the third level there is Us reading this novel. Now I can only speak for myself in this regards because I don’t have a mind reading superpower, but as I mentioned before I really related to this novel. And even as I’m writing this after debating about it for a bit I’m not sure how personal I’d like to get here, so we’ll see what happens, maybe there will be some magic going on between us as well. When it came to Ruth I understood her getting so wrapped up in Nao’s dairy, as my first Rock post is evidence that I get absorbed into things, even my Hello Kitei page shows I love reading and it overwhelms me all the time. When Ruth loses her grasp on time and reality I feel that as well. I would say though that Nao is the character I understand. I’ve had both a parent and a sibling who have wanted/want to check out of time early and there are times I’m right behind them. I’ve faced bullying (not nearly to Nao’s extent), have had my sexual boundaries crossed, have been in violent situations more times than I can remember, and have had huge body image issues. So for me the magic happened upon reading this novel was equally pleasant and a nightmare.
I would also like to relate this theme to “Easy A” for the last few seconds I have of you’re time since this is a popular culture class. In the film, Emma Stone says something along the lines that the books you read always have some connection to whats going on in your life. And for me that’s best part of the magic that happens.