Ron Christiansen's Reviews > Amsterdam

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
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's review
Nov 20, 2011

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bookshelves: fiction

I'm not sure how I feel about this novel. It's a book about two friends, Vernon, a editor of a newspaper, and Clive, a semi-famous composer. The novel explores their friendship in the aftermath of the death of Molly, a woman who had, at some point, been a lover to each of them.

I was quite engaged with several of the themes--what binds us to others? and the ruminations on death and randomness where Clive, in a moment of despair, calls the questions the integrity of the wilderness by calling it a "gigantic brown gymnasium."

Throughout the novel, I was hoping to like both or at least one of the friends, but by the end I didn't care for either--surely McEwan's point. In fact I didn't like them at all. And to end the novel on that note made me feel let down. In a sense the novel deconstructed itself until in the last few pages the characters were remote, estranged, even silly, the novel itself withering with the last page into nothingness.

Pre-read note:

Needed something to read during LDS stake conference, so picked this up since I just finished Saturday by the same author and because I knew I couldn't follow the other novel I'm reading with the background of LDS doctrine and testimony, Le Carre's "Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy", because the plot is too convoluted.

A descent read so far.


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