By Jeff Giles
September 18, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Nocturnes would seem like a perfectly good book if it didn’t have Kazuo Ishiguro’s name on it. After so many masterful novels full of wistfulness, remorse, and dread — The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go being personal favorites — he has set the bar so high that you can’t help but be underwhelmed by these five tales, most of which revolve around some naive, music-loving man getting an unpleasant glimpse into somebody else’s relationship. Ishiguro’s prose is looser than usual. It’s fitting for the characters, but you miss the hypnotic, hyper-controlled stuff he built his reputation on. Less talented writers could have written this book and gotten an A for effort. Ishiguro will have to settle for a B.

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