Sunday, August 02, 2009
Ian McEwan: Black Dogs
My favourite McEwan so far I think, because there was nothing in it that seemed left hanging, or superfluous, or whatever it's been that's slightly bothered me about his books. This is just all the best of him. He has this wonderful way of writing a book about one event while adding on all these other bits that might not be that relevant, but that combine to make a lovely literary experience. Here, the narrator is a man who was orphaned early and spent a lot of time cozying up to other people's parents, so when he finally marries he is very keen that his wife's parents should get along again, despite them having been more or less estranged for years. The black dogs of the title attacked his mother-in-law on the honeymoon, and were responsible for a spiritual experience that set her off in a different direction than her husband. So that's really the story, more than half of it is the narrator describing his life, and how he talks to his parents-in-law, ponders their estrangement, tells us how he meets his wife, relates how he tries to write a biography of his mother-in-law, and thus how he gets the full story, and with that story he ends the book. It's very likeable and somehow, despite the scattered events in it, very succinct. I liked it a lot.