Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ian McEwan's Amsterdam

My latest read was Amsterdam by Ian McEwan. It has won considerable recognition in the literary world, most notably as the 1998 Booker Prize winner. Don't let the title fool you though. Most of Ian McEwan's book, Amsterdam, takes place in London.

AmsterdamIt is a story about two men in upper-class London. Clive Linley is an accomplished musician who embarks on a journey to compose a masterpiece that defines the millennium. Vernon Halliday is the editor of a prominent newspaper with waning readership. The conflict is nestled in decisions of morality. Is it better to accelerate one's career or to protect those in need? Should Clive delve into his composition at the risk of others? Should Vernon publish sensitive information that would destroy a popular public figure? The moral dilemmas are believable, raw, and engaging. Clive and Vernon do not struggle with the morality of their own decisions, but find it quite acceptable to reprimand one another for their life choices. They see the flaws of their friend, but never their own. This is the realism that McEwan tugs at.

However, the random unity of realism that colored the pages throughout the book converges into a realism that could never exist. The ending was too obvious, too easy, and an author that can sustain a beautiful narrative for 183 pages ought to be able to carry it on for only ten more. In an attempt to show authorial cleverness, the end lacks the subtlety and finesse that defines the greatness of the rest of the piece.

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousMay 25, 2008

    thanks for the description. at first it's a bit challenging to pick out the themes of this novel, but your overview helped tremendously!