‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

The plot of ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’ is like the engine driving a sitcom – a foolish man is caught between a slightly unpleasant husband and wife whose marriage is falling apart. The only way he can help them is if he demonstrates that his life – his choices, his qualities – are worse than theirs; this is ultimately achieved through slapstick. None of the characters come out of this particularly well. The protagonist Ray is the comic counterpart to the profoundly flawed protagonists of the tragic Never Let Me Go and Remains of the Day: a bore at heart, Ray is inadequate in the face of the world, yet his trivial pleasures are real. And as a reader, you genuinely feel his extremely minor victories, and gain a sense of happiness as something fleeting, personal, farcical, and likely contemptable to the wider world.

Collected in Nocturnes, Faber & Faber, 2009