Red Wheelbarrow Book Reviews
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Saturdayby Ian McEwan
Vintage UK paperback
of the reviewers referred to this latest of McEwan¹s
novels as"profound" and "urgent," a
review I read after reading the book. I began the
book filled with doubt. I had a hard time entering the story
because of the
almost sterile chill that seemed to pervade the setting.
Henry Perowne is a
neurosurgeon whose mind works with the same acute precision
with which he
performs his surgery: cleanly, clearly, decisively. We see
him stand by the
window in the cold of a winter morning on the same Saturday
in which the
largest ever peace rally against the war in Iraq is going
to take place
within hours. His day is clearly mapped out for him: first
Saturday morning squash game with an old colleague, shopping
for the dinner
this evening to prepare a celebratory meal for the arrival,
from Paris, of
his daughter whom he has not seen for some months, the regular
visit to see
his mother in the afternoon in her home for Alzheimer patients,
attending a concert given by his son and preparing himself
additional visit of his father in law whom he does not love.
All is planned and laid out, as for a surgery. The scene
is set: everything
is both known and yet not completely, not in its actual detail.
plans are laid.
And all goes awry. And yet the center holds. The people are
described, our surgeon is so aware of the happenings and
of the consequences
at the same time, that the reader is both terrified and in
awe of such control. The author¹s
control. This is a mature work: beautifully written,
passionately felt, intellectually convincing.
There is also a love story: the love of husband and wife, the love of
parents for their grown children, the love of sophisticated and fortunate
people who know and understand the complexity of life in which there are no
easy answers, no simple solutions.
I return to the words with which I began. The book is urgent and
convincing. The urgency is in relation to the world of violence in which we
all live. The convincing has to do with the quality of love which can be
sustaining and in this case, it is.