An accomplished writer, of that there is no doubt, Kazuo Ishiguro’s short story ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ is a piece that speaks differently than his other work. It’s not the dystopian fiction of ‘Never Let Me Go’ nor is it quite like his 1989 novel ‘The Remains of the Day’. Here he branches into the comical – though he does keep the undertone of characterisation, relationship, wit and the ever-present psychic intimation.
‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ brings us Raymond – a down and out sorta guy. He lives in Spain, where he works, but life hasn’t dealt him the hand perhaps he was destined to receive when he was younger. Fate, or maybe, questionable circumstance, sees him instead receive an invitation from his two oldest friends in London – Charlie and fellow jazz enthusiast Emily. It’s an invitation he accepts willingly. Upon arrival however, it’s clear he isn’t really ‘visiting’ them. Instead Charlie and Emily are going through a rough patch in their marriage. The invitation then, is one of strategy. Charlie is going away with business, and though Raymond isn’t privy to it at first, his old mate wants Raymond to hang around with his wife Emily, to show his wife what she’s missing. You see, Emily, and Charlie think Raymond’s a bit of a loser – so if Emily spends enough time with Raymond, she’ll see just how great her husband Charlie really is. If you think this sounds like some goofball 1950’s slapstick comedy, then, well, it kinda is.
Raymond, at one point, finds himself boiling an old walking boot to emanate the smell of wet dog, whilst at another he is, under instruction from Charlie, rearranging the furniture to appear as though the house as been ransacked by a four-legged creature. The most embarrassing is Emily, arriving home from work, walks in to find Raymond with her pocket diary between his teeth. Even the dialogue, at times, dips into hilarity.
Yet where ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ excels, is that it utilises the comedy to propel the sense of sorrow and sadness surrounding Raymond. In fact, I felt, perhaps not sorry for him, but certainly sombre about his treatment. Charlie and Emily aren’t good friends, they may not even be good people – the comedy come heartbreak only serves to actuate this.
Kazuo keeps you reading. The characters are realised, and, unfortunately in the case of Charlie and Emily, utterly believable, and though the situation is funny, and is written to be so, Kazuo never lets you forget that there is some intimate grief here too. It’s a wonderful story.
Though I’d except nothing less from a writer such as he.
Come Rain or Come Shine is published by Faber & Faber for more information about their Faber Stories and 90th Anniversary click here.
Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 and moved to Britain at the age of five. His eight works of fiction have earned him many awards and honours around the world, including the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Booker Prize. His work has been translated into over fifty languages. The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go were made into acclaimed films. Ishiguro also writes screenplays and song lyrics. He lives in London with his wife and daughter.
Reviewed by Emily Harrison
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