Tuesday, 10 April 2012
Reading Room: British Book Challenge Review - First Love Last Rites Ian McEwan
I am a little late with my British Book Challenge review this month - 10 days late.
Where is April going? Halt this super-sonic train please. I needs to get off!
My March mission was Ian McEwan's first published collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites. My only other experience of McEwan's writing was in high school when I read Atonement. What a book. It's one of those stories that has stuck with me through the years and I can't believe it has taken me this long to read another dark and twisted product of McEwan's imagination.
First Love, Last Rites is an experimental collection of 8 short stories that McEwan himself once described as "a labratory", where he felt free to experiment creatively as a new and largely undiscovered writer. And, goodness me, does he experiment. From incest to molestation and murder, to an embalmed penis in a jar, McEwan's stories are dark, disturbing and (for lack of a better word) ugly.
The power in McEwan's short stories lies in his ability to create a moment in time, to draw a reader in until they become emotionally invested, bringing them to a place where they feel safe, where they think they know where it's going, only to abruptly rip your expectations out through your throat, leaving you breathless and confused, not quite sure what just happened.
The overarching theme of First Love, Last Rites, is the transition from adolscence to adulthood, darkly capturing the moment of lost innocence in some of the most grotesque ways imaginable. This is not easy reading.
You have been warned.