mark cerqueira well-rounded nerd

A Tale for the Time Being

The past six months of reading has been packed with leadership and management books so as 2018 closes out I decided to start weaving in some fiction books. I don’t recall how A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki ended up on my reading list… But if I had to guess it was probably the beautiful cover.

The book tells two stories. The first is Nao, a young Japanese teenager, who decides to take her life but before doing so wants to document the life of her great grandmother, a centenarian Buddhist nun. The second is Ruth, a novelist, who stumbles upon Nao’s diary on a beach in Canada.

"A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be."

As the novel weaves back and forth we get peeks into Nao’s evolving and changing world and then switch into the present where we see the impact those peeks have on Ruth. Nao’s story was a page-turner, but in comparison Ruth’s were less exciting. That said, I enjoyed reading this book. I can’t put my finger on what kept me hooked. It isn’t packed with much in the way of narrative for a 400+ page book. Things happen but that’s just setting the scene for character development. At some point I stopped looking forward to what was happening and more to how it was going to affect Nao and Ruth.

"Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

Being a huge sucker for anything that resembles the time travel of Chrono Trigger and Radiant Historia, I was looking forward to more plays on time and quantum physics but found the delivery was a bit shallow. Ozeki teased some fantasy and science-fiction elements but there wasn’t much delivered in this department. In that moment of disappoint, I could relate a lot to Ruth who grasped at the impossible in her attempt to find and connect with Nao. The lines in this book blended writer and reader and ultimately even I felt pulled into this medley. To Ruth Ozeki, well played! 👏