A long time ago (that’s softdrink-speak for I know I read it but damned if I can remember when) I read Atonement. And I didn’t like it (not that I could tell you why).
So it’s a giant mystery as to why (as well as when and how) I even bought this book. But it’s been sitting on the shelf for a really long time (again, softdrink-speak for damned if I can remember when), so in a desperate attempt to make a final decision as to whether or not I like Ian McEwan, at the beginning of the year I added Saturday to the Shelf of Doom.
And I ended up reading most of Saturday on a Saturday. Mostly because it’s not that long and I just wanted to be done with it.
I can see why people like him. Yet I can honestly say I don’t. For a fairly short book, there are times when McEwan needed to just move on. Honestly, I don’t want to know that much about neurosurgery (if I did I’d be reading a non-fiction book), or a squash game, or even that our main character likes to pee sitting down.
Saturday is a day in the life of book. A day in the life of Henry Perowne, devoted husband and father, neurosurgeon, squash player, and the aforementioned guy who likes to pee sitting down. On this particular Saturday, Henry runs a few errands, gets in a car crash, visits his mum, watches his son play some blues guitar, fixes dinner for his family, and is briefly (SPOILER AHEAD) held hostage in his own home.
Henry’s had a busy day, and McEwan threw in a bunch of heavy shit. There’s the impact of 9/11 and terrorism on how a person views the world and events that would previously have been innocuous. There’s the whole getting older and watching your children grow up thing. There’s professional jealousy (not Henry) and the idea of revenge and even some politics thrown into the mix.
And there were even times when I thought it was beautifully written. But it still left me cold. There was just nothing about Henry that I found interesting.
Am I alone here? What do you think of McEwan’s style?