Friday, January 13, 2006

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

God, I love the way this man uses language. This is the second of his novels that I've read (the first was his most recent, "Saturday", which I discovered while browsing Metacritic last year) and both times I found I was sucked in from the start. McEwan really knows how to choose his words well to sketch out the people, relationships and events of his novels in brief, vivid passages.

This book was like watching a perfectly choreographed train wreck, and I hope you know what I mean by that. I couldn't stop watching the inevitable, spectacular destruction of the two main characters, Clive and Vernon. This is a cautionary tale as much as it's a well-written, at times thrilling piece of prose - there are lessons here about the risks of self-absorption, of making impulsive promises, and of taking friendship for granted. It's only after finishing the book, and mulling it over for a while, that I am struck by the implausibility of what happens. The suspension of disbelief was complete, and the 1998 Booker prize well deserved.


Laura said...

I was not drawn into this book as quickly, and actually perservered past the shortish first part solely due to the promising review. However, past the first part, I did find myself watching the train wreck unfold, and realized that the self indulgent tone of that first part was appropriate, given the main characters.

Vicki said...

Did you find yourself getting drawn into the book? The way your comment sounds, it's like you were sort of detached from the story and the characters.

Laura said...

You've hit it on the head! I've been going in circles trying to figure out what my "problem" is with this book. I did get drawn into the story, but I felt detached from the characters.