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First Love, Last Rites

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  3,315 ratings  ·  236 reviews
Ian McEwan's Somerset Maugham Award-winning collection First Love, Last Rites brought him instant recognition as one of the most influential voices writing in England today. Taut, brooding, and densely atmospheric, these stories show us the ways in which murder can arise out of boredom, perversity can result from adolescent curiosity, and sheer evil might be the solution t ...more
Paperback, Reissue Edition, 176 pages
Published January 13th 1994 by Anchor (first published 1975)
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Ian McEwan, you are one sick fuck. Sick sick sick sick sick sick siiiiiiiiick. But, man you can write. The gorgeous sparse prose – no words are wasted with you. I have come to expect the warped characters you write about, yet you still manage to surprise me. The way you get into their

This was me reading your collection of stories (most of this happened inside my head, but some of it happened audibly):

{read read read} Sigh…beautiful.
{read read read} Yeah.
{read read read} Goddamn it.
Ian, that Ian. This is his first published work - a collection of perverse and sinister short fiction. This isn't the Ian McEwan of Atonement or even Saturday. This is the young Ian McEwan who's just starting out, and who would begin with works such as The Cement Garden and The Comfort of Strangers - dark, horrific and nightmarish novels. Published all the way back in 1975, these stories are set in some latter-day urban England filled with waste, pus, smog and rot and populated with walking, cra ...more
My relationship with Ian McEwan did not get off to a good start. I was an 18-year-old student at Cambridge, and a friend came to visit over the weekend. He had a copy of this book, which he praised extravagantly. Out of curiosity I read the first story. I really didn't like it.

That evening, he went out to visit another person he knew in town, and came back late and much the worse for wear, after having sampled the beer in three or four pubs. Somewhere around 2 am, I was woken by sounds of vomit
Yeuch. These are, in the main, frightful stories which leave a really horrible taste in the mouth. Thakfully I have read enough of his other stuff to know that I quite like some of it. When he wrote these he was one weird man. There is murder, incestuous rape, child abuse by a neighbour in one story, an aunt in another and a mother in another. These are foul stories with, to my mind, no real value other than showing how shocking McEwan thought he could be. They do not address issues, they simply ...more
Kristopher Jansma
Though I've been a McEwan fan since I first read Enduring Love, I've long avoided reading his debut collection of short stories. They've turned out to be everything I'd heard about them: perverse, disgusting, creepy, twisted, dark... and undeniably amazing.

I don't want to dwell on any individual story, or give all of the surprises away, but I'll try to explain why I liked them regardless of the content.

The very first story, Homemade, I really still don't like. It begins as a story of two adolesc
David Stephens
After hearing Ian McEwan's first book of short stories described as being "taut, brooding, and densely atmospheric," I think I got a somewhat skewed vision of what these stories would be. I was expecting tales set in London that oozed a gothic atmosphere. Instead, while the stories contain quite serious and deathly situations, they are written in a more light-hearted tone that is closer to Nabokov than Poe. Passages of nasty violence and tawdry encounters are dealt with in such a casual manner t ...more
An early collection of short stories, all but one told in the first person, many of them teenagers or young men, yet their voices invariably ring true. Some events are shocking and depraved, but even in those stories, you get an uncomfortable but plausible and powerful insight into the mind of the perpetrator.

Although you could easily read the book in one sitting, it’s probably best to read one story at a time, interspersed with other things, as many will leave a nasty taste in your metaphorica
Callie S.

Non ho altri aggettivi per descrivere una delle più belle raccolte di racconti che abbia mai sfogliato.
Benché il mio primo approccio con l'autore fosse stato segnato dalla delusione, ho preteso di rifarmi e sono stata più che ripagata.
L'esplorazione del primo amore, il sesso consumato come rito iniziatico, il desiderio perturbante dell'altro sono solo alcuni dei temi che McEwan pone al centro di una narrazione ora essenziale, costruita su flash folgoranti, ora arricchita da una lingua
Tom O’Connell
The problem with compiling stories like these is that the themes lose their confrontational weight after about three stories. After that, the reader starts to expect a final act curve ball, which of course gravely undermines their impact. The inclusion of (I hazard the term 'lighter') stories like 'Last Day of Summer' and 'Cocker at the Theatre' adds balance, and 'Solid Geometry' is similarly great, though a little ill-fitting.

It's fortunate then that the force of McEwan's prose (even here in th
Perversion is one of those things we don't talk of, yet is inherent in us all. Some embrace it, others are in complete denial and others still nurture it in the darkness while pretending to the world that there is only light. The beauty with which McEwan writes about perversion satisfies my curious side. The language and storytelling is excellent. Must read for those who believe that one's own perversion and perhaps the macabre can be spoken well by another.
Ian McEwan has a way of making each sentence feel more real to you than your own lived experience. More tangible than the couch you sit on, more emotionally meaningful than your last interaction. To me, this is what makes his books both affecting and important--the best of what art can do--but also, at times, deeply problematic. Because you are intertwined with his stories, woven into the fabric of not just the sensibility, but the plot itself, you are also complicit in them. And this works extr ...more
The teaser on the back cover says "... as terrifying as... Stephen King..."

Uh, no. Not at all.

Gruesome? A little. Perverted? Yeah. Sheer horror? Hmm, missed that. A "splendid magician of fear"? Whoops, missed that one too. McEwan is morbid, I'll grant you that, but macabre? Nope. Maybe I'm too jaded by what passes for entertainment these days. The prose is okay, but "crafted with a lyricism and intensity that compel us to confront our secret kinship with the horrifying..."? It failed to do that
Yes yes it was well written stuff I suppose but really I found myself losing interest quite rapidly towards the end. What started out feeling like a more verbose version of early Martin Amis quickly turned in to something quite dull I suppose. The final two stories felt like they would last FOREVER.

The writing of these stories of everyday people doing everyday things before the perverse or shocking (not in the sense that it was a surprise) twist was a novel idea that kept me reading and interest
Jul 16, 2011 Andy rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Ian McEwan
Shelves: short-stories, 2011
I definitely have a love-hate type relationship with Ian McEwan. This collection of short stories veers closer to the hate end of the see-saw. The content isn't the most savoury, dealing with a variety of unpleasant acts and people (think rape, incest, paedophilia, child murder and abuse, neglectful parents, often in the same story). However, his writing is lovely, sparse and clearly defined as usual. He also manages to grasp the underlying humanity (and often mundanity) of the troubled people w ...more
Maria Gonçalves
Um livro de contos que consta como “uma obra reveladora da psique humana”: pessoalmente apreciei a aproximação temática por desventrar, de forma crua e dura, a natureza humana da cultura, em particular da formulação ético-moral. Apreciei também a sua escrita: é de uma simplicidade, de uma harmonia e de uma delicadeza... que parece quase um paradoxo face ao tema da depravação humana.
This reading was shocking, the stories are dark and I hated! Between the stories and yourself there was not an author or anybody else; just yourself and the stories! He was just an eye to show you a picture; nothing more. Stories finished as they are, he did not accused or punished any one; so you are not sutisfied end of the day! They are dark but as a literature it is very good.
First Love, Last Rites is the first published work of Ian McEwan and the first collection of his short stories to win the Somerset Maugham award. I must say I prefer the work of the more mature McEwan. This collection of stories is extremely disturbing and I had to take a break after the third story (a first for me for a McEwan book). Why can't his characters be permitted to enjoy a perfect summer? I could barely stifle a scream of revulsion at the close of many of the stories. In them you find ...more
John Meddick
Aug 09, 2012 John Meddick rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to John by: Jenny Wood
First Love, Last Rites is powerful. The reader experiences a lifetime of personal trauma through a variety of characters which are remarkably real and decisively original. Permeating through each story is a clammy, understated fear - seen, for example, in the sentimental end to Summer and, more obviously, in the advantages taken by adults over those less able or aware of the norm. This strikes in the reader, who endures some heart-rending scenes of depravity, a terror that is difficult to shake, ...more
Absolutely not a pick-me-up read, First Love, Last Rites is a collection of some of McEwan's earliest works. He dwells here mostly on the morbid and the macabre and the disturbing, and for a developing author, doesn't do too badly on pulling it off—one or two of the stories are genuinely effective. He often tries too hard for a Shocking Denouement, however, which for me had the opposite effect to that which he no doubt intended (and I found his Oh So Daring explorations of incest and child abuse ...more
Gregor Vasconcelos
Adolescence has always been a fruitful place for storytelling. That strange place in between childhood and adult life when one is perpetually confused, coming to terms with the world around you, when you never seem sure of anything. It has been explored in many ways, the sincerity that runs through John Hughes, the endless sadness of Catcher in the Rye, through the magic of Harry Potter and so on. Adolescence however, can also be pretty terrifying. A facet often overlooked and when it has been d ...more
La prima pubblicazione di Ian McEwan risale al 1975 ed è la raccolta di racconti Primo amore, ultimi riti. In essa si trova in abbondanza lo spirito macabro che caratterizza tutta la prima produzione di McEwan (Il giardino di cemento, Cortesie per gli ospiti); ed è anzi in virtù delle piccole e grandi perversioni messe in scena in libri come questo che oggi lo scrittore viene accusato di essere diventato poi insipiente e “commerciale”. In verità, lo spirito sottilmente atroce di McEwan non si è ...more
Prima dragoste, ultimele ritualuri. În așternuturi (1975) reprezintă cele două volume de debut al scriitorului Ian McEwan. Ca și în Ispășire (2001), McEwan scindează psihicul uman și îl face reprezentativ pentru întreaga acțiune a personajelor. Stilul autorului ajuns la vârsta maturității este greoi și anevoios în comparație cu volumul de povestiri cu care acesta a debutat. Volumul este alcătuit de fapt din primele două volume de povestiri publicate și paginile care viețuiesc în interiorul acest ...more
Hmm... well...

It's hard to know what exactly I think about these stories because on one hand they do make me think and consider a lot of what may go on the heads of passersby, the Gummo style "how-much-do-you-think-about-that-you-don't-admit-to" question. The psyches of abusers both accidental and evil are looked into, the victims and witnesses as well, and stripping away the obviousness of morality in these situations, McEwan reveals just how horrible and disturbing all of it is. When the play
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I think I discovered Ian McEwan through Enduring Love, a book about two men who witness a fatal accident, and which was made into a film starring Daniel Craig and Rhys Ifans. I can't remember if I read the book first, or saw the film, but if I'm honest my interest in it was based mostly on the morbid fascination of a man falling from a hot air balloon. I know. I acquired a few more McEwan books, but none of them have really grabbed me since. I tried to read Atonement, and found myself skipping h ...more
N.J. Ramsden
At best, there are one and a half pieces in here that could have been interesting if they'd been presented in other company, but the bulk of FLLR is both disappointing and nasty – nasty in the way that writers like Martin Amis are nasty, that stilted suburbanity, underlying misogyny, and racism, and petulant desire to shock in that very 1970s middle class way. McEwan can write a sentence, and that's part of the problem – the writing itself, for the most part, but not always, flows well enough an ...more
It was good to read Ian McEwan's earliest published work to understand his progress as a writer, but the stories themselves are underwhelming for the most part. McEwan's particular brilliance is in creating an atmosphere of unease. In full length novels he is allowed to do this slowly, imperceptibly over many pages; in his short stories the reader feels nauseated by the sheer bulk of perversity and depravity crammed into such a tight space. His twists and turns are good, and yet not as good as R ...more
Brilliant plots. He's so confident with his subject matter. The stories are page turners which is satisfying. I love his use of language, so understated but then he throws in a few gems that let you know just how good he is!
Vit Babenco
Stories are dark and moody. I could often feel some Charles Bukowski's influences though the tales are told with quite original bleakness.
Viviane Cordeiro
This is not the same Ian McEwan I know and love. This is not the same Ian McEwan who wrote one of my favourite books ever (aka Sweet Tooth), neither the one who made me cry a river on Atonement. This Ian is rude, cruel, devilish and painful. But his mesmerizing writing style is there all along, it might take you a while to work this out, but it's worth the shot.
Some of the characters are not likable at all, it's hard to connect with them and some stories are hard to get by (the siblings' one, f
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Ian McEwan was born on 21 June 1948 in Aldershot, England. He studied at the University of Sussex, where he received a BA degree in English Literature in 1970. He received his MA degree in English Literature at the University of East Anglia.

McEwan's works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last
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