Tuesday, December 5, 2006

subjectively speaking...

Perhaps I am jaded.

That is the only explanation I can find for not enjoying ‘Atonement’ by Ian McEwan, as much as I ought to. As much as all the critics I googled over the last half hour, just after I finished the book, said that I should.

Atonement works for me on many levels. The nostalgic World War II setting (which means a lot to anyone brought up by a mother who considered Churchill’s Gathering Storm light reading) the slow, dreamlike unfolding of the tragedy, the use of a novelist as the main character (all of us who write, fancy ourselves such, in the distant future at least) – dammit, it’s precisely the sort of story I love.

So what went wrong?

Perhaps I am jaded. It comes from reading too much good fiction, back to back. Perhaps these pleasures are best spaced out, all the better to savour them. I should’ve read a little pulp fiction, a romance novel or two, before I picked up Atonement.

Or perhaps, it is just that the novel did do all that I expected it to. Maybe it shouldn’t have. Maybe it should’ve just gone on in some other direction. The shocker in the epilogue, is not, actually, a shocker at all. It’s just what you would’ve expected, even if, for some fifty pages, McEwan leads you to think otherwise.

That said, Atonement is extremely easy reading. I mean easy, in the sense, that this is a book you want to just keep on reading. But I’m sorry, it is by no means the most memorable book I’ve read.

But perhaps I just have bad taste. The chaps at ‘Observer’ would definitely think so.

No comments: