Saturday, March 24, 2007

Is there quicksand on Chesil Beach?

No doubt many more of us will be linking with breathless enthusiasm to this extract from Ian McEwan's forthcoming novel On Chesil Beach. When they do, I hope they also comment. What do readers really think of this? Like Florence in the second paragraph, I'm "mildly incredulous" that this sort of thing is still being written. It's not that it's bad writing. In fact, one can't deny that it's hugely accomplished. But that is, in a way, its deepest problem. In addition to the control-freakery observed by Ellis Sharp last week quoting James Wood, this extract is also cruel, prurient, patronising, glutinous and smug.

Ian McEwan is undoubtedly one of our best writers. It's just that he's not a very good artist.

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