A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Title: A Tale for the Time Being
Author: Ruth Ozeki
Genre: Fiction

Rating: 3.75 / 5

Goodreads | Powell’s


This book is probably slightly better than a 3.5 but not quite as good as a 4. There was a lot here that I liked, and then some that didn’t work so well for me.


I’ll start with what I liked. Mostly I liked the characters and their stories. That’s not to say I always approved their behaviors or thought they were great people (with two exceptions, all the characters pissed me off at some point), but they were all fairly compelling and realistic, and so were most of the situations they found themselves in.


The writing style was decent; it wasn’t particularly stunning, but at least it wasn’t distracting (most of the time, anyway).


Where it really wasn’t satisfying for me was the “meta” aspect. That dream near the end…right before that is when it really started falling apart for me, and the ending was just…not my cup of tea. It’s not that I don’t enjoy elements of quantum physics or magical realism or unexplained mysteries–I do, very much, actually. I just didn’t like the execution in this book. It felt like it was trying a little too hard to be clever and although I honestly appreciated most of the philosophizing in this book, there was some that was just a little too…self-referential? Cutesy? Smug? Maybe “smug” isn’t quite the right word, let’s see if the thesaurus can help me out here…maybe self-satisfied? With a touch of pretentiousness? Dare I say…bumptious? (Okay that was kind of a joke, since I feel kind of pretentious using that word because I just learned it about 45 seconds ago but I kind of love it. This “meta” aspect of the book definitely is “proud or confident in a loud way that annoys” me.) Despite all that, though, it wasn’t enough to dampen my overall impression of the book, which I mostly enjoyed reading and thinking about and which will probably stay with me.


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