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In Between the Sheets Hardcover – 19 Jan 1978

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd; 1st edition (19 Jan. 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224015567
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224015561
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 557,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His novels include The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize, Atonement, Saturday and On Chesil Beach.

Product Description


"No one interested in the state and mood of contemporary Britain can afford not to read him" -- John Fowles "McEwan proves himself to be an acute psychologist of the ordinary mind" New York Times "This is a writer whose plainest combination of words is, like the draughtsman's proverbial dot, unmistakeably telling" Financial Times "A writer in full control of his materials...In [his] short stories, the effect achieved by McEwan's quiet, precise and sensual touch is that of magic realism - a transfiguration of the ordinary that has a strong visceral impact" New York Review of Books "His writing is exact, tender, funny, voluptuous, disturbing" The Times --This text refers to the Digital Download edition.

Book Description

'His stories are so resonant and frightening because they are totally original. They are about the recognisable world of private fantasy and nightmare - a world, despite our protestations to the contrary, we are all involved in' - Observer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a collection of seven short stories by Ian McEwan from 1978. The main theme that runs through the book is sex. The sexually activity is within the spectrum of kinky and depraved. However, it could also be looked upon as pornographic but without the titillation. What I mean by that is that most of the sex is suggested but not always described in great detail. But, it could be construed as pornographic simply due to whom and what is described as having the sex. There is sex between a man and a mannequin; between a woman and an ape and the wet dreams of a man that involve a pre-pubescent girl.
I tried so hard to not use the following adjectives to describe the book; `dark' and `disturbing' as I am sure they have been used many times to describe this set of short stories. However, it is almost impossible not to use the afore-mentioned adjectives as they perfectly describe two major aspects of the book.
I believe the book reflects Great Britain during 1977 and 1978. The country was beset with strikes, IRA bombings, political unrest, the `Winter of Discontent' was just around the corner, the gaining popularity of the Conservative party, (The Thatcher era was only a year away), and women's palpable fear of the Yorkshire Ripper. There is one story in the book of a dystopian future set in Great Britain. But attitudes to sex in the seventies were a bigger threat.
The seventies are seen by many historians as the decade that saw an explosion of promiscuity, abortion and pornography. The pill became widely used in the seventies and so it appeared as if everyone was having sex with anyone. Sex became recreational rather than perfunctory.
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By A. Bear on 14 Mar. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
of the short story. I keep going back to Ian McEwan when I want to gift someone a book they can read in chunks. Ian McEwan is without doubt a skilled writer but if you haven't read his early short stories you really need to get this book and give it a go.
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49 of 67 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on 4 Feb. 2003
Format: Paperback
"In Between The Sheets", was published in 1978 following two very highly prized and one award-winning book by Mr. McEwan. I have become a great admirer of his more recent work so; I had gone back to read some of his earliest published books including this collection of short stories. The book is physically small and brief at 153 pages, and what it contains even less of is substance.
Seven short stories are contained and only the last even begins to rise to the level of mildly interesting, but it too quickly dissolves in to a bit of trivia. When reading an early collection like this I often wonder if it was published to fill a demand for who was then a new hot sensation of a writer, and secondly would it ever see publication today? My guess is the first question would be answered as yes, and the second would be not a chance. Mr. McEwan has become a writer that has an international reputation as a very good author, it is deserved, and he has been honored repeatedly for his work. Nothing of the present author can be found in this book.
In the late 1970's or whenever these stories were read there were probably trendy bits of hip phrasing that would be used to describe and justify these stories. But as with most trends they lack substance and fade as quickly as they arrive. I suppose surreal could be applied to some of the tales, but others would have different ideas about bestiality as shared in the story, "Reflections of a Kept Ape". The story, "Pornography", has been played out so many times in real life that it fails to even mildly shock. "In Between The Sheets", the short story, is simply the nadir in a book of stories competing for descriptions of the most dysfunctional human behavior. I cannot say any more here as it would be unprintable no matter how it was phrased.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 25 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
You can pretty much guess what this collection centres on from its title `In Between The Sheets' but rather than just a collection of stories based around sex and sexuality McEwan uses these themes to build a set of stories which are much more than that. `Reflections of a Kept Ape' is both a nod towards Darwin's views on evolution and also in a way looks at the ideas behind the Oedipus complex whist setting gorilla's in a house in the present day as neighbours of humans. The title story `In Between the Sheets' uses a young girl's sexual awakening to highlight the marriage breakdown of her parents. `Two Fragments: March 199-` starts with a slightly sexual theme, which it returns to later on, but is actually in fact about a dystopian future which McEwan was predicting could happen in the 1990's, this collection being published in 1978 and was a vision of London that I found quite harrowing yet most readable and quite fascinating.

Naturally in any collection there are some books which you instantly warm to and others you don't, in fact I think a collection in which you love every single story is a rare thing. Both `To and Fro' and `Psychopolis' I didn't really get and I think would need a re-read but I think that's more an issue with me as a reader and my understanding and what I took from them rather than them not being such good tales.

I was bowled over by two particular tales in this collection, bar the two mentioned in the paragraph above they all worked from me just two stood out particularly.
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