Posted on November 19, 2008
I’ve just started Ian McEwan’s novel Enduring Love and it reminded me how much I love McEwan’s writing. McEwan is a terrific stylist and I often find myself rereading a sentence for the sheer beauty of the syntax and language, often interrupting whatever Pat is doing to say “Listen to this!”. I recently read his On Chesil Beach, yet another story of how life can be irreovacably changed in a moment — the decison to speak, not to speak, a chance encounter, or barely missed encounter. McEwan dives so deeply into the psyche and emotions of his characters that 200 pages might cover an hour of experience, and yet it is never tedious.
And he also possesses a mordant and often wicked wit. On Chesil Beach’s plot hinges on a wedding night and the new husband’s…..hmm, how can I say this? “Over eagerness” is perhaps most polite. It’s funny and awkward and awful all at the same time — sort of like an episode of The Office.
His 2006 Saturday is one of the best post-9/11 books I’ve read. Atonement was made into a so-so movie (though it has a phenomenal long-shot, but I digress). Amsterdam is a deliciously sick tale of two lives falling apart and a euthanasia plot (for which McEwan won the Booker Prize, though it doesn’t touch Saturday or some of his other works).
If you haven’t discovered McEwan yet I am almost jealous of the pleasure of first acquaintance that awaits you.