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Claire

Saturday - General opinions and reviews?

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Well, I got here eventually.

I've read a couple of threads looking at specific aspects of the book, but nothing for more general comments, so I thought I'd take the liberty of coming along really late and starting one.....

I've recently reread Enduring Love and found it just as gripping and disturbing second time round, so I had high hopes for Saturday.

But - I just found it a real let down. I was really disappointed by it.

Nothing much happened, and what did happen was diluted by a lot of long-winded musing about the nature of life, post 9/11 - which I felt ought to strike me as deeply profound and moving, but in fact just felt self-indulgent on the part of Mr McEwan.

It seemed like a poor imitation of Enduring Love, to be honest.

Opening: Dramatic incident involving a flying machine....
Followed by: Meeting between the main character and someone with a profound mental disturbance.
Followed by: "Is the disturbed person following our hero or not????"
To end with "Family and/or loved ones of our hero being held at knife/gun point in their own living room.
Happy Ending, more or less.

I'm not normally so rude about books, but I had such high hopes for this one that I feel really let down. I feel too cheated to be thoughtful and profound about it!!! Did the rest of you all love it? What am I missing??

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But - I just found it a real let down. I was really disappointed by it.

 

What am I missing??

Absolutely nothing!

 

I had never read this author before but the reviews got my hopes up and then it was such a let down. Trite and predictable, for the most part, and the parts that seemed promising went nowhere - just evaporated. To be rude about it (if you'll excuse the expression) this book sucked big-time and was a waste of money. Another author cashing in on his past success by passing off a dull book and making the bestseller list because of his previous reputation IMO. :(

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Read a piece in the Sunday Times Culture magazine today that another author was saying the same as we did - that 'Saturday' was trite rubbish. The writer of the article hinted that it was probably 'sour grapes' and this book was being touted for the Man Booker! I have the feeling that this award is either done through connections or political correctness if this book is considered prize worthy.

 

This feels like a surreal version of 'The Emperor's New Clothes' and because it is a McEwan book and has been hyped so much no one wants to admit that they thought it was banal rubbish! :(

 

 

I knew I really hated it when I realized that when the whole 'big climax' thing with Baxter & co. holding them hostage with the knife was going on I was wishing he would hurry up and kill them and put everyone (especially me!) out of his/her misery! :eek:

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The Emperor's New Clothes was always one of my favourite fairy tale!

 

I'd love someone to come along and defend this book - I really wanted to like it, come and persuade me why I should....

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Started this book last night at about 11.30pm and found myself on P50 before I decided I'd better get my head down.

 

The fact that I got that far in one curtailed session suggests there was something that appealed to me about it, even though nothing actually happened!

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RR's expedition into this book drew me to the thread and I must say I'm surprised that it has received a general thumbs down. I very much enjoyed it, although I suppose a lot depends on what you want from a novel. Obviously this isn't a page-turner in the conventional sense of a racy plot, but I think it does pull you in - much as RR seems to be finding - through the intriguing reflections on a day that is both ordinary and extraordinary.

 

Let's set out the stall a bit. No, it's not doing anything radically new in confining itself to the business of one day. And yes, it's very similar to Enduring Love - I would agree, Claire: it's probably my biggest objection. To add to the parallels you've already outlined, the central character is a man of science unable to tap into the resources of the literary, instinctive world, against which he's juxtaposed.

 

In place of an intriguing psychological thriller, though, we have the first person narration of Henry, allowing us into his thoughts on life. This might be seen as a poor swap, I suppose, but actually I enjoyed it. McEwan offers a sort of philosophisation on the day-to-day business of existing that I engage with very readily; I guess it could be seen as pompous or smug, though I wouldn't agree with it being trite. I find it contextualises the processes of life very neatly and satisfyingly and so I move along with the narrative with great ease.

 

I'm not the sporting type by any means and if you asked me the sport I would find least appealing either to play or watch then squash would be a strong contender. Nevertheless I found myself becoming thoroughly immersed in Henry's game with Jay, with all the interesting parallels it offered into his mindset, especially after the confrontation with Baxter. I think that's quite an achievement to keep me on board so comprehensively, given my natural inclinations. Slightly less so Theo's music, if I'm honest.

 

I thought it was quite brave to embark on such a detailed set of descriptions about the neurosurgery at a very early stage in the novel and I could imagine some might find that offputting. I can also see how it fits the agendas of those who find McEwan can drift into the role of erudite braggart. However, it was a convincing and justifiable means of slipping us into the thought process of a man who is happiest with the ordered precision of the theatre and his 'firm', the classic set-up for a novel that wishes to disturb this.

 

I could also appreciate how at the end

 

 

it might appear unconvincing that Baxter should fall under the spell of 'Dover Beach', which could seem like an over-contrived foil to both scientific analysis/diagnosis and the male impulse for a solution based on physical aggression. However, McEwan has been careful to build up Baxter's fragile psychological state in which emotional changes can be sudden and extreme, only the surprising development is that they turn into excessive positivity as opposed to the violence we fear.

 

 

I did feel irritated that McEwan uses fragments of his mate Craig Raine's poems for lines of Daisy's. Think up your own, don't smarm up to your buddy, Ian! Perhaps he also tried to drag too much out of 'Dover Beach' by the implications of armies clashing in the night after the war demonstration. I'm not sure finally how I feel about that. Another caveat is that I'm not convinced he deals with the less educated of his characters as well as he might - his strengths lie in the carefully reasoning mind.

 

I admire McEwan for not giving into the impulses I'm sure he felt, given his general politics, and simply lambasting the war. What emerged was an interestingly balanced argument and the sense of a man who saw that the world genuinely seemed faced with two evils and the question was how to choose the lesser of them. It also (mostly) avoided the smugness born of retrospect.

 

No, this was clever, thoughtful, understated and skilfully written. Perowne might not have been a central character who leapt off the page and enthralled you, but he was all the more convincing for that and I enjoyed sharing his day. Not McEwan at his very best, but far from his worst and for a novelist of his calibre that makes it a very worthwhile read indeed.

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Well, having moved office, with all the extra work that involves, my reading has taken a back seat in the last few weeks but I have returned to Saturday for a few brief episodes and have to say I am rather enjoying it.

 

Remember that I am first and foremost a thriller man but I am finding McEwan's / Perowne's take on the world rather interesting and insightful. The observations and touching little references to real-life feelings and insecurities are very real to me.

 

It isn't grabbing me in the way that a good thriller does, (when reading until 1am is pretty standard) but it's a rewarding experience nonetheless.

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Remember that I am first and foremost a thriller man but I am finding McEwan's / Perowne's take on the world rather interesting and insightful.

That's really good to hear, RR! It's a great compliment to a book if someone who generally prefers other genres really enjoys it. Have you read Enduring Love? If not I'd give it a go since, as has already been said, it shares a number of qualities with Saturday, but does actually have the strong impetus of a psychological thriller.

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David, I haven't read any other McEwan books but will look out Enduring Love. Thanks.

 

I have to say I am rather surprised at the lack on enthusiasm for Saturday - I did enjoy it and was certainly not preoccupied with the author's debates about Iraq. If it was meant to be a political statement then (perhaps due to not being a political animal) it rather passed me by. I found the interaction with his daughter and colleague on the subject more interesting due to the challenges they presented him with via a vis the relationships themselves rather than the subject matter itself.

 

I also found it somewhat refreshing to read a novel and enjoy it for its subtleties rather than the all consuming plotlines and thriller-rides that I normally read.

 

(I am a similar age to Henry Perowne which might have a little to do with it I suppose, although my children are significantly younger than Theo and Daisy.)

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