Posts From Author: ian mcewan

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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Re Martin Amis

Martin Amis was doubled on Saturday night at the New School. He was appearing as part of the tenth annual PEN World Voices Festival of International Literature, established by his great friend Salman Rushdie, who had a front-row seat for the occasion. Stage left was the real Amis, head cocked and battle-ready; opposite him sat interviewer and critic John Freeman; and between them was actor Anatol Yusef, who spoke only the historical Amis’s words, taken from interviews conducted since the 1970s in Interview magazine. The concept was simple but rather brilliant: Freeman would interview Amis-past and -present interactively, with Amis-present annotating, approving or contradicting his earlier selves. It was fascinating to watch. Starting with The Rachel Papers (1973), Amis’s writing was inevitably compared with that of his father, Kingsley, whose most famous books include comic classic Lucky Jim and The Old Devils, winner of the 1986 Booker Prize. “I still think it delegitimises me in a weird way, having a writer-father,” said Amis-present, who’s written thirteen novels, several collections of short fiction and a wealth of criticism and social commentary. “I’m like Prince Charles, who talks with this sort of ex cathedra authority based on absolutely nothing at all. With me, everyone slightly suspects I got […]
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