Mariel's Reviews > Enduring Love

Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
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's review
Nov 29, 2007

it was amazing
Recommended to Mariel by: Webster's dictionary
Recommended for: ferdinand de saussure (de so sure)

Ian McEwan's Enduring Love and Saturday have some similar ideas. Culpability, survivor's guilt, do we ever really know anybody?, haves versus the have-nots from not only position of material things and social stats, but uneven mental playing fields. Hell, they have similar stories. In Enduring Love, an idyllic afternoon is ruined after a freak hot air balloon accident. Only one man really attempts to save the kid. Joe cannot go back to living with blinders on about himself. Sure, the guy was a Billy trying to be a hero and died. It was that the rest of them let go that he died at all. It costs to be the only person who gives a damn. Guilt is a bitch. Another person involved develops an obsession with Joe based on the intensity of the experience. He's got erotomania, to put a label on it, and reads into everything biblical connections between himself and Joe. Joe's wife is the sitcom kind of connected. It's easy to go with the flow when you're both flowing the same way. Joe likewise becomes obsessed with figuring out his stalker's brain waves. Like trying to decode a radio frequency in someone else's soul, is how I saw it. Joe is a scientist and he'd try to use that to apply to another person. Saturday's Henry is a brain surgeon. His shark swimming through the void of life comes in the form of a wake up call (with a morning cup of guilt) of world events of 2003. The personal drama reflects something that was most aptly put (this is what my memory recalls, sorry to non-fans) on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. No one noticed teen Jonathan's problems because they were too busy living their own. It's not stopping to think about letting go of the balloon because you're too inside yourself. (My favorite parts of that book were the insights and everybody-dies-alone Alzheimer's suffering mom story. The Cosby show similar home life of careless privileged wasn't something I especially wanted to try on.) A freak fender bender accident puts Henry in the sights of a diseased criminal. Henry diagnoses what is wrong with him pretty quickly (he's fucked), yet lies about false cures to get out of the sticky situation. Like with Joe and Jed, his unfortunate attacker holds up the good doctor as representative of everything, good and bad. Henry's home life is threatened when he invades (literally, in this work of literature. {Side note: I hate it when people use the word "literally" wrong}) his home. Can they go back to living as they had before? Both Joe and Henry try to understand their invaders from the point of view of science. I don't know if I believe that Henry's family will really be there, in the waking up and smelling the shit sense (literally. Just kidding!). Joe's wife certainly wasn't. The weakest part of Enduring Love, for me, was that love story. I couldn't take it inside of me and feel anything for her. She was the person you see on the other side of the glass in an uptown place (living in her uptown world ohhhh ohhhhh) dressed up in fancy clothes who could be absolutely anyone. Magazine pristine. Cultured in the art textbook feel. I got into Joe's obsessive attempt to understand Jed more. I could use all sledgehammers over my head, or dead horses to beat, and I'd still never get it. I know that what one person has in mental capacities interests me a great deal. The mental haves versus the mental have nots. (Mentalists. I'm probably one.) If you could measure the soul, or hearts if they never got to grow three sizes bigger like in The Grinch. I only know that I'm subterranean low self-esteem. Not Titanic submerged 'cause that once existed. Make it the "lost" city of Atlantis. (Maybe it was there someday.) Yeah, I can get into these guys trying to find some sense of this stuff. Being lucky to have a brain that works (if Alzheimer's never happens *knock on wood*). Enduring Love is one of my favorites and Saturday is not, for all their similarities. Saturday feels like you could still go back to sleep... And means more than just doing it not to feel guilty. What the hell are wakeup calls, anyway? I feel it like trying to get somewhere, without losing more than you have to. Buffy was right. Enduring Love is one of those books I feel tries to understand other things in the way I try to understand them.

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