42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, improbable, uncool,
This review is from: Saturday (Paperback)
Let's be clear: Ian McEwan is incapable of writing a bad English sentence. In `Saturday', as always, he gets under the skin of his characters with forensic brilliance and I can think of no other contemporary novelist who renders the texture of thought and consciousness with such nimble guile. There are ideas here that strike you with their elegant truth.
So much for form. As far as story goes, `Saturday' scores low. When McEwan writes about the solipsistic artistry of Henry's neuro-surgery or the sentimental tug his over-achieving offspring induce, his tone is frankly embarrassing. In fact, everything about the Perownes' lives is uncool, from the son's young-fogeyish talent for the blues to his daughter's straight-from-the-pages-of-the-Sunday-Times poetry career. `Saturday' further showcases the two chinks in McEwan's formidable armour: dialogue (one has to translate it to believe it) and sex (too much coy information). The final invasion of the family home is wholly improbable and where else, apart from in the pages of a middle-class fantasy, could a rabid thug be disarmed by the lyric beauty of a Matthew Arnold poem?!
I don't know how `Saturday' came into being but it feels like an amalgam of obsessions that had been knocking around the writer's head. Peace demonstrations, the moral complexities of the Iraq war, poetry, jazz and neuro-surgery read more like the
contents of a Sunday supplement than the stuff of real life. Still, we have to judge McEwan relatively - he's probably one of the top three British authors writing today. Hopefully he will set his own bar higher next time.