28 July 2011

On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

 My copy of On Chesil Beach has this description by the Independent on Sunday on its front cover: "Wonderful...Exquisite...Devastating". I can't think of three words that are more apt for this novel.

This is a monumental endeavour.  Though he makes it look easy, McEwan sets out to capture, in a mere 150 pages (or thereabouts), a turning point.  The separate lives of Edward Mayhew and Florence Ponting have brought them to where they are now; we see how they grew up, how they met, how they fell in love.  Perhaps we might think that their lives were too divergent to now run in parallel, but here, at this brief but important intersection, the split-second decisions they make, right down to the words they choose, will chart the course of their lives permanently.

(Please note spoilers ahead.)

12 July 2011

C by Tom McCarthy

Jonathan Cape, 2010
I've been struggling for weeks to get through this book and have finally finished.  If not for the fact that I've said in an earlier post that I'd make a review of it, I'd have long given up.

This is one of those post-modern, experimental works that I don't quite know how to appreciate.  That the plot is inconsequential I can accept.  What I cannot abide are improbable, surreal characters that I am unable to identify with.  While I understand that a novel may be an abstract piece of art, my preference is for writing that tries to reach out to rather than alienate readers.  That is of course my own opinion - there is an entire genre of works that eschews conventional literary devices such as characterisation.