Finished reading: The Forest of Wool and Steel by Natsu Miyashita 📚 There’s a section of the book where the narrator, an apprentice piano tuner, quotes a Japanese writer’s vision of what they’re trying to achieve:
“Bright, quiet, crystal-clear writing that evokes fond memories, that seems a touch sentimental yet is unsparing and deep, writing as lovely as a dream, yet as exact as reality.”
The piano tuner syas that this is what he wants for his own work. Of course this is implicitly what the author of the novel is seeking for their own writing, so it’s surely a little meta. Yet a sentimental style is by definition in tension with reality. If it wasn’t, it would be seen not as sentimental but as realism. The more sentimental the writing is, the less exactly it can describe the world. The great risk is that a writer who entertains sentimental writing may also forgive stereotype and cliche. There are times when this book rises above sentimentality, but not many times.