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Reader! Reader!

Literary fiction, classics, dystopian, history, memoir, prize winners, and of course the 1001 books. You really might catch me reading anything!

Currently reading

Empire of Cotton: A Global History
Sven Beckert
Progress: 220/656 pages


Amsterdam - Ian McEwan

I love Ian McEwan's writing. Even those books that are very uncomfortable—say, The Cement Garden or On Chesil Beach—are just so well done.


And Amsterdam is no exception. The character development of long-time friends Clive and Vernon is so strong. Clive the composer, with perfect pitch and a major commission, known his own composition methods so well he is comfortable missing a deadline or two. Vernon, the newspaper man, so confident in his nose for news and circulation numbers.


And both are out of sorts after attending the funeral of their friend and former lover Molly. Both worry about her quick time of diagnosis to death. Her death from what, exactly, is not clear; brain cancer? a quick dementia? Both wonder if the same could happen to them. As Clive misses another deadline, he worries. As Vernon feels he cannot get the younger staff on board with his editorial vision, he worries. The reader can feel their worry.


In the end, though, the story wraps up too quickly. And at under 200 pages, their is no need for it to just—BOOM—end. You can certainly sense what might be coming. But what reader doesn't discount the possibility. Perhaps that BOOM is to make it quick and shocking—but it still isn't when you get there.


It is still shocking (because what McEwan isn't?). But still, really? If no more explanation before, why not after? Because how could this really be possible? And how would it be dealt with from a legal standpoint? And was either of them right, or perhaps both of them? Because who would take an agreement so far?


Vague, I know. I'm not spoiling!