Reading Ian McEwan’s SATURDAY on a (Labor Day) Monday

Self just realized: This is her first Ian McEwan novel.

Where was she all these years? She was falling in love with Deborah Digges who, as far as self knows, had only one or two books (of prose, that is), and who taught at Tufts and who passed away earlier this year, much too soon, and Rosario Castellanos and Nina Berberova.

But, better late than never. She has arrived at Ian McEwan. And the first novel of his that she happens to read is Saturday. And it’s tangentially about 9/11. And it begins so well, with that gripping scene of the doctor standing at his window and seeing a plane on fire.

But then it begins to meander, and in a novel this short there really shouldn’t be any meandering, and the doctor goes on and on and on about how much he loves his wife (Okay, self gets it, the man is blessed. Which can only mean one thing: the novel will end with the doctor in a singular state of un-blessedness. Which self thinks is a rather standard plot, and very unworthy of McEwan, but anyhoo), and self wishes he would get back to work, dissecting patients’ frontal lobes, already.

Another thing that bothers self (though she doesn’t know why, names have never bothered her before) is that he named his protagonist “Perowne,” and she keeps thinking Prawn. Prawn. Prawn (It’s as though “District 9” has been living rent-free in self’s head. Summer of the Prawn! Yes, Summer 2009 really is the summer of that creature)

What kind of last name is “Perowne”? She has read hundreds of English novels, and never encountered a character with a last name like this. Is it vaguely Indian? Scottish? What?

She feels McEwan means the name to have significance. But what? Is it an echo of something, something self is too dense to grasp?

But, in spite of niggling doubts, self will press on. Because, after all, this is Ian McEwan. And she so loved that movie “Atonement” (even though she had never read the book).

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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