Monday, June 17

The Mastery of McEwan

I have just finished reading Ian McEwan's Atonement.  I am so blown away and shell-shocked by the experience that I don't feel quite ready to talk about it yet.  I just need a little more time to think and let the experience sink in.  

In the meantime, I wanted to share some samples of his writing that I hungrily hoarded up as I was reading.  He is a truly beautiful writer.  His words are gorgeous and hand-picked with such delicacy for crystal clarity of meaning.  Please feast on these sumptuous extracts.  I have bolded the lines that made me swoon.  

How guilt refined the methods of self-torture, threading the beads of detail into an eternal loop, a rosary to be fingered for a lifetime.  

Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001), p 173. 

During her stay in Primrose Hill she borrowed her uncle's typewriter, took over the dining room and typed out her final draft with her forefingers.  She was at it all week for more than eight hours a day, until her back and neck ached, and ragged curls of unfurling ampersands swam across her vision.  But she could hardly remember a greater pleasure than at the end, when she squared off the completed pile of pages - one hundred and three! - and felt at the tips of her raw fingers the weight of her creation.  All her own.  

Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001), p 281.   

Cecilia moved round behind Betty to see what everyone else could see - a huge blackened tray recently pulled from the ocean bearing a quantity of roast potatoes that still sizzled mildly.  There were perhaps a hundred in all, in ragged rows of pale gold down which betty's metal spatula dug and scraped and turned.  The undersides held a stickier yellow glow, and here and there a gleaming edge was picked out in nacreous brown, and the occasional filigree lacework that blossomed around a ruptured skin.  they were, or would be, perfect.  

Atonement by Ian McEwan (2001), p 104.

Expect a full-fledged review sometime this week.  I really just need a few days to recover from it!

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