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An uneasy read but remarkable,
This review is from: The Comfort Of Strangers (Paperback)
Surreal is an overworked word these days but it fits this novella. Enigmatic too. McEwan is spare with his words yet creates a melodramatic impact and this style has become something of a trademark. Though on a heavier scale this was a cross between the langourous work of Kazuo Ishiguro and the febrile writing of D H Lawrence, yet more macabre, sexual as opposed to sensual. Some might argue, and I would accept, pornographic.
There are two descriptions of faces, one male, one female, and these are unlike anything I have read before, with intense picturesque detail and examination of every facial feature contained within one paragraph.
Is this Venice? I'm not convinced, though I'm aware that this is the accepted location. Does it matter where it is set and we are not told? On one level I think it does - McEwan is teasing us, intensifying the mystery.
I didn't enjoy reading this. In fact it made me quite uncomfortable, yet, once started it had to be finshed to find where it was going, though I had a sense of how it would end.
It is not a book to enjoy but to thrill at the language and study the psychology. I might even want to say that parts of it are sick. Whatever goes on in McEwan's mind he is amazingly adept at translating it to the page.