Self began reading a new book today, Ian McEwan’s Atonement.
She’s read two other novels by McEwan, the more recent one being On Chesil Beach (the book The Economist says should have won the Booker). Can’t say it slayed her. She found the narration a little too mannered, too fully conscious of itself. (Self thinks narration should be as clear as glass. Any hint of obfuscation and she starts losing interest. Pretty quickly. Before you can even say “What gives?”) Still, kudos to McEwan for devising a plot that was pretty audacious and unusual, not to say minimal. And at least she was able to read to the end of On Chesil Beach, which was not the case with the other McEwan novel she has tackled, Saturday (weird title).
Now, however, after having reached just p. 6, self already knows that Atonement is something else entirely. McEwan is, as they say, “firing on all cylinders” with this one.
She saw the movie. She sat there crying. Can anyone do “tragic” as well as James McAvoy? She doubts it.
And, as dear blog readers are certainly aware, when one already knows the ending of a book, that is some pretty huge baggage one brings to the reading of it. After all, it’s pretty hard to ignore the proverbial “elephant in the room.”
But, once again, self, you have digressed! Why can you never get straight to the point?
So, here’s the passage that triggered this post:
At the age of eleven she wrote her first story — a foolish affair, imitative of half a dozen folktales and lacking, she realized later, that vital knowingness about the ways of the word which compels a reader’s respect. But this first clumsy attempt showed her that the imagination itself was a source of secrets: once she had begun a story, no one could be told. Pretending in words was too tentative, too vulnerable, too embarrassing to let anyone know. Even writing out the she saids, the and thens, made her wince, and she felt foolish.
Will Atonement attain the heights set (in self’s mind) by Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go? Self thinks it just might.