Wednesday, April 11, 2007


All day I've been avoiding finding out what happened in "Life on Mars" in the hope that I can watch it a day late on Virgin on demand (not always certain - the last episode of Spooks NEVER appeared on NTL, spooky) and it seems the whole country was talking and writing about it. Let's say John Simms has always been a favourite, who deserves a successful series, and the idea was brilliant - but some of the episodes (particularly the Chorlton sex party one) have been the creakiest of recycled police procedurals. Whatever, as soon as I've finished here, I'll watch the last episode. I've also been avoiding reviews of McEwan's "On Chesil Beach" having read the first few paragraphs in the Observer, I was sure there was something dreadful and frightening about to happen despite the langurous prose. Suddenly read a review, Peter Wild's on Bookmunch and I'm none the wiser, hurrah! though I'm not sure I want to read the book. Wild is right that "Enduring Love" was his breakthrough - if only because it was his first truly successful novel (though I'm rather a fan of the earlier "The Innocent") - McEwan, before then, seemed a writer who was stuck: both in his forensic style, and his buttoned-up subject matter. "Enduring Love" seemed to unbutton him; and he's stayed that way. Yet, I'm not even sure I'm interested anymore. There was hubris in "Enduring Love" (the thriller element, the crutch his novels had previously leant on); but nothing compared with the slight "Amsterdam", the brilliant, but contrived "Atonement" and "Saturday", which was more enduring, than love. We're now in "late" McEwan I think, early being the tense short stories - the terribly stretched novels like "Child in Time" - middle being everything before "Atonement" (his "Birdsong"), and now we're late. He's an audience, and he's a novelist, and now he realises he should bring the two together. I find it hard to agree with Wild's conclusions - though I've not read "On Chesil Beach" yet - that this is a writer peaking; yet his caveat I can't disagree with, that McEwan is part of an old guard.

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