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Lizzy Siddal

Saturday - Insights from the author ...

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Seeing as board members are mostly disappointed with this book, I wonder if the author's comments might shed enlightenment on his intent and make a difference to the reactions expressed to date.

1) McEwan wanted to change the emphasis of this tale. He wanted to write about a character, who is generally content with life, career and family. He also wanted to write about the enjoyments of Herry Perowne life: sport, music and food. Does the problem lie in the fact that "happiness writes white" i.e is very difficult to get down on paper in a form that keeps the reader interested?

2) McEwan is a human materialist (should that be a material humanist?) and Perowne's being a brain surgeon allows him to explore in detail his fascination with the question of how the sum total of a human being is more than the sum of its component parts. What determines consciousness? How makes us appreciate art and literature, etc? In fact, the climax of the book revolves around this seeming paradox? Perowne, a scientist with no appreciation for literature, is in mortal danger and, yet, his life is dependent on the criminal's artistic appreciation for one piece of poetry.

3) The depiction of the disintegration of Perowne's mother is taken from that of McEwan's own mother. In fact, the conversation Perowne has with his mother is taken verbatim from diaries McEwan kept at the time of his mother's illness. (The diaries were not written with a view to publishing, I hasten to add. McEwan only decided to include them midway through writing the novel.)

4) The editing process. This was my major concer nbecause I think McEwan has been served poorly by his editors on this work. So I asked him to describe the editing process. The answer was quite enlightening in that editing is done by his wife (a professional editor) and his friend, the poet. (The name escapes me at the moment, but it is the poet from whom McEwan borrowed Daisy's poem.)

So there we have it. Combine the lack of vigorous editing with the fact that McEwan quite openly states that he lost interest in writing fiction after the events of 9/11, and the odds are that the result would be poor.

It has been described as "important" and I suppose as a depiction of the Zeitgeist of Autumn 2003 it is just that. Is that enough for it to win major awards? Time will tell but I, for one, will be outraged, if it does.

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    • By Flingo
      Rescued Thread When Bill has caught up with some things, please can we have the forum for this back, and then get it moved? Cheers!



      Flingo 8th June 2006 11:06 PM

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      megustaleer 8th June 2006 11:34 PM

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      katrina 9th June 2006 06:02 PM

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      Momo 9th June 2006 06:20 PM

      I can well imagine that it's six years since Meg read it. My oldest son read it when he was a year younger than my youngest one is now and he is five years older. It had just come out otherwise he would have done it earlier as my younger one has.
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      katrina 10th June 2006 08:30 AM

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      Flingo 10th June 2006 10:45 AM

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      megustaleer 16th June 2006 08:56 AM

      belweb says on another thread that she thought the plot was full of holes! I beg to differ! The thing that I like about this book is that there are no 'holes', everything is all neatly sewn up at the end!

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      Momo 16th June 2006 01:45 PM

      I don't know either what kind of holes belwebb saw in this novel. As Meg already mentions, and we all should consider this, this is a children's book. We cannot expect deep meanings that you will only understand after studying English Lit.



      belwebb 16th June 2006 05:28 PM
       
       
       
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      elfstar 16th June 2006 06:38 PM

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      donnae 19th June 2006 11:17 PM

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      Adrian 20th June 2006 01:50 AM

      I was thinking the same thing, donnae. It's pretty obvious when you read it.



      megustaleer 20th June 2006 09:34 PM

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      Adrian 20th June 2006 09:52 PM

      I certainly did that, not giving the book its due respect and racing through it. I'll have to re-read it, or maybe listen to the audio version.



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