Saturday, June 03, 2006

Ian McEwan's Amsterdam

My McEwan binge continues. This is his third novel I have read in the last month! It was easier to read than the others, unlike Atonement its scope is very limited and it doesn't dabble in the clash of grand ideas like Enduring Love or Saturday. It is also a very slim book, it took me just a few hours to read the whole thing. The subject matter is grim as usual--the basic plot is about a euthanasia pact (assisted suicide will be more apt)--but the touch is always slight and tinged with humour, of the black variety of course. It is also a witty satire on, well, lots of different things. The best of which is the insight into the mind a really vain artist full of delusions of grandeur. The music composer Clive has no trouble thinking of himself as "genius". And McEwan has this to say explaining his dubious moral behaviour and how they justify pleading a special case on account of being "artists":

These types - novelists were by far the worst - managed to convince friends and families that not only their working hours, but every nap and stroll, every fit of silence, depression and drunkenness bore the exculpatory ticket of high intent.

And the best is how he portrays the inner working of a newspaper office. This is the editor addressing his team:

It's time we ran more regular columns. They're cheap, and everyone else is doing them. You know, we hire someone of low to medium intelligence, possibly female, to write about, well, nothing much. You've seen the sort of thing. Goes to a party and can't remember someone's name. Twelve hundred words.

Ha! Do the TOI editors (or whatever they call those people there) think the same about Shobha De I wonder! Hahaha!!

Complete Review page of the book here.


Guptavati said...

Read the Cement Garden? (I'd call that the mother of all morbid morality-questioning books - no pun intended.).

Alok said...

No, Haven't read it yet. I was thinking of which one to read next. :)