Posts From Author: bbc

Review: The Children Act by Ian McEwan

The Children Act (Nan A. Talese, 2014) is a short novel, and this is, says writer Ian McEwan, a good thing: If we can make this fine distinction, it’s a short novel rather than a novella. But I do love this form. The idea of sitting down to a book that you could read in one sitting, or within three hours, much as you might go to a movie or an opera or a long play… You’ve got to establish characters very quickly, there’s room for one or two sub-plots. It’s a form I adore. — Ian McEwan on BBC Radio 4’s Today [listen here] At two hundred and twenty-one generously spaced pages, his thirteenth novel certainly fits the bill. But what The Children Act lacks in word count, it makes up for in the efficiency of its style and execution. McEwan’s protagonists have always known too little and too much. The precocious Briony Tallis, in Atonement, second-guesses rape where there’s none. Saturday‘s Henry Perowne is doubly fated by his understanding of his assailant’s Huntington’s disease. The plot of Enduring Love hangs on misunderstanding and uncertainty. In each of these books, as in The Children Act, what concerns McEwan is a kind of epistemology of “the instant.” Moments of […]
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The Sea, Inside & Out

Seeing “the watery part of the world” was, for Melville’s Ishmael, a way of “driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation.” One feels it’s probably the same for Philip Hoare. Five years ago, his terrific Leviathan, or The Whale (published in the US as The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea) won the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for nonfiction. He’s followed it up with another maritime adventure, The Sea Inside — published, appropriately, by the Brooklyn-based Melville House. Between times, he co-curated the Moby Dick Big Read, a series of podcasts featuring everyone from Tilda Swinton to Sir David Attenborough and Benedict Cumberbatch to Fiona Shaw, reading the book chapter by chapter. You could say Hoare loves a whale. Which is why it might come as a surprise to fans of Leviathan that it takes so long for any cetaceans to appear in The Sea Inside. (Like Moby-Dick, actually, at the risk of spoilers.) But fear not! Hoare’s latest is just as magical as his last, and in fact this time round I was easily as roused by the other members of his menagerie, in particular the birds. He has a great eye for social detail. Did you know that the eurasian osytercatcher […]
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