Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan (SPOILERS)

Sweet Tooth Warning! Here be spoilers.

I've just finished listening to the BBC serialization of Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, which the critics have generally panned. I feel I grew up with McEwan (in a literary sense), all the way from The Cement Garden, so I was interested to find out if he had finally taken a major misstep. And until the final chapter, I thought that he may have done, that the critics may have been justified.

Of course, he hasn't. Carping about the lack of IRA bombings in the plot entirely misses the point of Sweet Tooth. This is an author in late middle age reminiscing about his youth, and doing an Inception on all the might have beens. The Calvino-like device of the last chapter was completely unexpected, collapsing the narrator on themself. Hint to the critics: This is not a spy novel. It's a literary novel playing with autobiography. Is is great literature? No. Is it a good read? Yes, if you stick with it to the end.

Late middle age. Sigh. I wonder if my own narrator will turn out to be a fiction.

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