Dear “Ruth”/Ozeki

You wonder about us.
We wonder about you.

Enclosed are letters from the students of American Fiction in the Social Media Age at Washington University in St. Louis.
 
If you decide not to read on, no problem. But, hey, it was pretty magical the last time.

4 thoughts on “Dear “Ruth”/Ozeki

  1. Dear Ruth,

    You wonder about me.

    I wonder about you.

    Who are you and what are you doing?

    Are you in Whaletown fishing the sands for pocket watches or fish carcasses?

    Are you eating overbaked scones in an overpriced cafe in New York?

    Are you happy? Or are you waiting to see if one more book will bring that?

    Did you split yourself in two? Is one half of you in Whaletown writing at your kitchen table and the other half in a local temple in Eastern Tokyo? Did cleaving your identities in two show a heart split in two or did you find your whole self on a single hemisphere? Have you reconciled them or are you still hoping they’ll meet one day? Is Haruki #1 as much a part of who you are as Nao and Ruth seem to be?

    And can anyone truly know what a time being is or is that for Jiko to find out when she gets on that elevator?

    It doesn’t matter anyway.

    No barnacles will grow on this letter. No ocean will ebb and flow it towards your home. This is a blog, not an anti-blog. This note will not decay but rather is will fester and gather dust. You may never read this. Another Ruth may read this in five hundred years and wonder where Whaletown is or why anyone cares. The only thing growing on this letter will be the time stamp and the only ebb and flow that will carry it is the will of the internet.

    I hope you are enjoying your scones or watches.

    Yours, Keralyn

    P.S. Nao calls Jiko the only one left of her kind. How terrible that must be to be so alone.

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  2. Dear Ruth,
    You wonder about me.
    I wonder about you.
    Who are you and what are you doing?
    Are you and Oliver real?
    I know that Ruth Ozeki and Oliver Kellhammer are real people, but are you anything like your characters in the novel? I found both of your websites. Oliver’s art is exactly how it is described in the novel – I got to see the Neo-Eocene piece, so I’m glad to see the project worked out. Are you still working on your memoir? I saw that you published The Face: A Time Code – is that your revision of the memoir genre?
    What made you want to create Nao as a character? Does she feel real to you? Does Jiko? Do you feel yourself longing for, or writing to a “special you”? Is it naive to feel like a special reader when reading novels, or is this just the nature of good writing and reading practices?
    Some of my favorite moments in your novel are your descriptions of Whaletown’s wilderness. I can’t get over passages like, “As he ran through the dense understory, he could read the signs of arboreal intrigue, the drama and power struggles as species vied for control over a patch of sunlight, or ginat firs and fungal spores opted to work together for their mutual benefit” (60). I watched the book trailer for A Tale for the Time Being, and it seemed to highlight Whaletown’s landscape. Could this story have taken place in any other setting? Is it important that the reader of Nao’s diary is from a place such as Whaletown? Do you truly feel ambivalent about living there, or is it only Ruth the character who pines for New York? I think I want to move to the Pacific Northwest after college. Maybe even Canada. How do you really feel about being an American ex-pat in Canada? What’s that like?
    I’ll leave you to your own thoughts now. Thanks for sharing your time being with my time being.

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  3. Dear Ruth,
    You wonder about me.
    I wonder about you.
    Who are you and what are you doing?
    Are you writing or reading or perhaps even meditating?
    Are you like me, finding meaning and harmony in your cultural identity?
    I’d like to imagine you on Vancouver Island, content with Oliver and working your way through your next novel. It’s hard to imagine what you would write after reading A Tale for the Time Being, but I’m sure the mystery will go away once I type your name into Google.
    This book was published in 2013, but I imagine you wrote it before that, back when the tsunami and earthquake were all people could discuss regarding Japan. How did you decide to use the 2011 tsunami as a plot mechanism to piece your story together?
    I’m writing this for a class where we read your book, and we spent some time discussing it in class, but truth be told my experience reading this book felt too personal to share some of my emotional responses in a classroom setting. It could be similar to the feeling you had when reading Nao’s diary and not wanting others to read it, or being possessive of the actual journal itself.
    I hope one day, our paths will cross and I’ll get to tell you how much this book meant to me. I know I’m just one reader of the many that have read your book, but I’d like to think you’d be interested in hearing how magical your book was to me. You’re my kind of time being, the way Nao was your kind of time being, and even though Nao doesn’t exist in reality, I’d like to think she’s just a little bit real inside the hearts of you and I, and everyone who has read this novel.

    Yours,
    Eri

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  4. Dear Ruth,

    You wonder about me.

    I wonder about you.

    Who are you and what are you doing?

    Are you not just an author, but the author?

    Did you write yourself into another world? Or, are you just a part of a world where you’re unknowingly written about?

    Anyways, I enjoyed reading about you and your rebirth. I believe that Nao’s life introduced you to a different life than you previously lived. For the most part, I was satisfied with how you handled Nao’s belongings. It was necessary that you took ownership of what you found on the beach. You welcomed this unexpected enigma with curiosity and tenacity. You should be proud of yourself.

    I know about you just as you know about Nao. I only know what is written. After you discovered Nao is real I decided that I must trust the written word as accurate no matter how crazy it may seem. Research, as you have found, only helps once you are sure of what you already know.

    As I part, I will always wonder: are you Ruth Ozeki or are you just “Ruth”? Is it rude to refer to you as “just ‘Ruth’” when you are seemingly so realistically defined as a human being?

    Until I find more words, Lily

    P.S. I want you to never wonder: if I believe in you…I do.

    P.P.S. Skyping is always an option 🙂

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    Related
    Dear Ruth: Smile
    A Tale For the Time Being: Dear Ruth
    A Tale for the Time Being: Ending

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