Monday, March 8, 2010

Ian McEwan, calamatist

The distinguished author (The Child in Time, On Chesil Beach, Atonement: we don’t talk any more about his 1978 debut novel The Cement Garden which was possibly just a wee bit plagiarised from, sorry, inspired by Julian Gloag’s 1966 novel Our Mother’s House: I had read the latter and when I read the former I thought, hang on a minute, mate. . .) says, apropos his new novel Solar which is about climate change:
I am quite tempted sometimes to be a calamatist. There is something intellectually delicious about all that super-pessimism.
The publisher says, unexpectedly, of the book:
It shows a fresh side to Ian McEwan’s work, that he’s a comic writer of genius.

1 comment:

Max said...

Isn't the point - as some of the more honest reviews of Solar have pointed out (see Thomas Jones in the LRB, for one) - that McEwan has pursued a niche for pseudo-intellectual, self-consciously wry and topical tosh, which is about as much "comic [writing] of genius as it is "science", "literature" or genuine engagement with the human condition?

I can't, myself, read The Child in Time, On Chesil Beach, Amsterdam, Saturday and so forth without wincing (and can only plead masochistic curiosity for having continued to try) - the earnest emphasis on significance, the poignant reflections (see Jones above) of the burdens of true intellect, the adolescent plotting. I can only imagine that their large audiences have some need for what might seem worthy, dangerous and clever - but is actually about as mad, bad and dangerous to know as a airport schlockbuster.