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A few months ago, like the dull thuds of a heart beginning to beat, I heard the first stirrings of Ian Mc Ewan’s new novel as publicists and publishers began preparing its delivery into the world.Interviews appeared, an atmospheric trailer that revealed absolutely nothing was released on Mc Ewan’s Facebook page, a blurb was posted on his publisher’s website.
Sometimes the writing strains and groans with the pressure of its own self-conscious preciosity, as when the narrator pictures his mother “youngly slumped” on a table and then tells us he “insist[s] on the adverb,” which means that Mc Ewan does.
Mc Ewan replaces the smiles, blushes, glances, and head movements that are the fiction writer’s traditional arsenal of “telling” descriptors with even more telling organ movements.
A moment of hesitation in a conversation is rich with unspoken feeling: “my mother’s heart begins a steady acceleration.
Our narrator has pretentious tastes: an audiobook of James Joyce’s “thrills” him, but sends his mother to sleep.
He also knows a lot about wine, which he is apparently able to taste even though it is “decanted through a healthy placenta.” Mc Ewan enjoys peppering his novels with mouth-watering descriptions of food and drink (I often dream of the seafood stew in ), and he hasn’t found a reason not to do so, quite elaborately, even from this undeveloped perspective.