Saturday, October 14, 2006

Ian McEwan's New One

Yesterday I had that most satisfactory of days, reading a new novel by a good writer. I read Ian McEwan's "Saturday" first in Starbucks right after buying it and then later at home in my recliner. I will probably read it at least one more time and recommend it highly.

Set in post 9-11, pre-Iraq London, "Saturday" narrates the day off of Perowne, a man who has it all: successful brain surgery practice, beautiful loving lawyer wife, palatial home in London with summers in France, plus the rebel poet daughter is publishing and the rebel musician son is getting rave reviews for his shows and albums. The whole family except for a drunken father-in-law and a senile mom are in pretty good shape.

This most fortunate of men is constantly conscious of fear of terrorism, frustration with pacifism, and the anxiety of living in a London with violence always near the surface. The brain surgeon is still a man for a' that--as evidenced by fierce competivieness on the squash court and by his barely controllable road rage. The climax of Perowne's Saturday involves men fighting men and protecting women--a phenomenon not reflected upon either by Perowne or by his creator.

In between his bursts of testosterone, the Darwinist Perowne enjoys cooking, dutifully visits his mother, and worries about his own ageing. At 48, he regrets he'll soon have to give up squash and running marathon. A man who sees himself as gentle and precise, Perowne is still very much king of the roost. What will happen to Perowne's consciousness when he seriously confronts his own mortality I look forward to in one of McEwan's future books.


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