Thursday, March 26, 2009


Ian McEwan is probably the most well known of all the British writers today mostly because of ATONEMENT which was published under much public and critical acclaim. The movie version of this great novel was absolutely excellent. McEwan likes to put his characters in a moral dilemma and watch while they grapple with their conscience and record their behaviour which may lead them to ruination. I really like McEwan. His writing is so beautifully executed I don't think many writers can come near him. His book AMSTERDAM about two friends who both loved the same woman won the Booker Prize in 1998. This was the first novel I read by him which led to many others. Others worthwhile are: THE CHILD IN TIME, BLACK DOGS, ENDURING LOVE,SATURDAY. ENDURING LOVE is an excellent book, also made into a successful movie. The opening scene of this novel is spellbinding in the description of the runaway hot air balloon. THE CHILD IN TIME is one of my favourites mostly because it concerns Time and its relativity.

I was disappointed in SATURDAY even though I was captured by the writing style--which is always the way with this author. I understood what he was trying to convey; I just could not go along with the ending of this novel. ON CHESIL BEACH which is his latest book I didn't get. It's only a little over one hundred pages selling for near 30 dollars. It was not liked by the critics, some saying that it looked like a contractual obligation novel. I guess the publisher thought because McEwan was so popular right now, people will rush to buy it. Not so.

Martin Amis is the son of the great writer Sir Kingslsley Amis who had no time for Martin's writing style. Kingsley said Martin likes to mess with the reader and draw attention to himself. Martin gets a lot of criticism for his books. But he is widely read and very popular---so it goes. His novel TIME'S ARROW is quite interesting because the events go backward in time to a single statement. I liked this idea. The novel centers around a Nazi doctor. NIGHT TRAIN was Martin's attempt at being American which drew lots of criticism. DEAD BABIES is strange.

I read his latest novel HOUSE OF MEETINGS. I enjoyed it. There was a bit of controversy in this novel in that most people reading it did not know that the baby in it was Black. It took an astute reviewer to actually figure that out,it was never overtly stated by Martin. When he was asked by reviewers(they were pissed!)why it wasn't clearer, Martin said how clear do you want me to be? it was there, read it properly. Like his Dad said, he likes to mess with the readers. When I read it I already knew about the baby. It pays sometimes to read the reviews first. Interesting writer, though, you never know what to expect from him.

William Trevor. Well, W. Trevor is Irish, not British but that's close by anyway. Oh, this man is an amazing writer! He was introduced to me by a professor at university. Trevor won about every award there is, except the Booker where he is always short listed(that's amazing on its own!) People who don't read him will recognize FELICIA'S JOURNEY which was made into a great movie by Atom Egoyan. The book is better, always is. I haven't read as much Trevor as I would like to; I'll get around to it. DEATH IN SUMMER is such a wonderfully moving, well written novel that I still remember scenes from it although I read it many years ago. MISS GOMEZ AND THE BRETHREN is also an interesting and enjoyable read.

John Banville. I've only read THE SEA which won the Booker in 2005, I think. Beautifully written novel concerning love, loss, and returning to a summer cottage where memories become vivid and still haunt the main character. Excellent.

Next; Short Stories

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