Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Thoughts on: On Chesil Beach (Ian McEwan)

You might recall that some many moons ago, I said that Ian McEwan was one of the writers I aspire to be like. Well. The man has been nominated for the Booker prize umpteen times, plus his stuff is very entertaining, so can you really blame me? I've read Atonement (finished it within minutes of having to go and meet friends at the cinema to see the film), Amsterdam and as of a few hours ago, I've also read On Chesil Beach.

Let me tell you the best thing, in my opinion, about Mr McEwan's books; He makes the little nothings of life seem like everything.

I find myself always able to relate to his characters, even when they are so far removed from my own situation that without his help, I would not be putting myself in their shoes. I am Briony Tallis; I amFlorence Ponting. I am even a little bit of Edward. It makes me wonder if I am little bit like McEwan myself. Does he wonder about the same trivial things that I do? Does he search for significance in every thing he does?

I find myself amused also by this quote: "There were rumours that in the English department, and along the road at SOAS and down Kingsway at the LSE, men and women in tight black jeans and black polo neck sweaters had constant easy sex, without having to meet each other's parents. There was even talk of reefers. Edward sometimes took an experimental stroll from the History to the English department, hoping to find evidence of paradise on earth, but the corridors, the notice boards, and even the women looked no different" (McEwan, 2007, 40).

I guess that just tickled my fancy, being both an English and a History major. I don't know how much truth there is in it, even in my own time and location, let alone London 1962.

The other theme that always strikes me about McEwan's work is that of communication and understanding. His characters can often misunderstand each other and take years to truly come to grips with what was meant. I recognise that in daily life too. Old events take on new significance in time. I respect McEwan's ability to recognise that.

He remains on my list of those I aspire to be like. Others will not be so fortunate, I fear.

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