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5 February 1981
... I first wrote a television play in 1974 because I wanted to break the isolation of writing fiction. I had no other job and I was far less reconciled than I am now to the essentially crackpot activity of sitting down alone several hours a day with an assortment of ghosts. I envied people who, even while they often complained about each other, collaborated, sped in taxis to urgent conferences; they appeared ...
10 May 1990
The Innocent 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 231 pp., £12.95, May 1990, 0 224 02783 2
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... everyone in the movie is concerned). This man has been framed by appearances, as we all could be; innocence is no defence, innocence doesn’t stand a chance. A complex variant of this scene haunts IanMcEwan’s fiction, and creates, among other things, an eerie resonance for the mild-seeming title of his remarkable new novel. For McEwan, the innocent is never entirely innocent, always has a murky ...

Point of View

Frank Kermode: Atonement by Ian McEwan

4 October 2001
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 372 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 0 224 06252 2
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... Minor resemblances between this novel by IanMcEwan and Henry James’s What Maisie Knew have already been noticed and are of some interest. James left a quite full record of the development of his story, which described modern divorce and adultery ...

Ways of Being Interesting

Theo Tait: Ian McEwan

10 September 2014
The Children Act 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 215 pp., £16.99, September 2014, 978 0 224 10199 8
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... For some years,​ I have nursed a modest hope concerning IanMcEwan: that one day he should write a novel without a catastrophic turning point, or a shattering final twist. That for once no one should be involved in a freak ballooning accident, or be brained by a ...

Evils and Novels

Graham Coster

25 June 1992
Black Dogs 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 176 pp., £14.99, June 1992, 9780224035729
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... and not enough with evil.’ Contemporaneous with Wilson’s new canonisation is the showing in London of Merchant-Ivory’s film adaptation of E.M Forster’s Howard’s End, and a new novel from IanMcEwan. To a reader of First Love, Last Rites or In Between the Sheets it will seem an odd conjunction. Nevertheless, it is to Wilson’s implicit prescription that McEwan’s novels seem ...

Oh, the Irony

Thomas Jones: Ian McEwan

25 March 2010
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 285 pp., £18.99, 0 224 09049 6
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... In 1997 I went to hear IanMcEwan read from his latest novel, Enduring Love, at a café in a deconsecrated church in Oxford. The passage he chose was the now famous opening chapter, with its vivid and terrible account of a freak ...

Dissecting the Body

Colm Tóibín: Ian McEwan

26 April 2007
On Chesil Beach 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 166 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 224 08118 4
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... ugly it is, even uglier than a woman’s thing.”’) It is not hard to imagine the surprise of Florence, the girlfriend of Edward Mayhew, a nice girl in her early twenties from a nice background in IanMcEwan’s new novel, On Chesil Beach, when ‘one Saturday afternoon in late March, with the rain falling heavily outside the windows . . . she let her hand rest briefly on, or near, his penis ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Blurbs and puffs

20 July 2006
... own work just isn’t enough: the proof copy of Jonathan Raban’s Surveillance, due from Picador in September, carries an assurance that the novel will appeal to readers of Jonathan Franzen and IanMcEwan. Wow. McEwan’s name has become something of a hallmark: even John Updike can’t have a novel published in London without its being stamped on the cover (‘“The finest novelist writing in ...
30 April 2009
... In different ways, most of IanMcEwan’s novels and stories are about trauma and contingency, and he is now best known as the great contemporary stager of traumatic contingency as it strikes ordinary lives. In The Child in Time, a child ...

Draw me a what’s-it cube

Adam Mars-Jones: Ian McEwan

13 September 2012
Sweet Tooth 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 323 pp., £18.99, August 2012, 978 0 224 09737 6
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... much I can say with pride. I know her death was a moment of intense pleasure to her’). When he wakes up he vomits on the corpse, a reflex of horror and remorse that amounts to a further assault. IanMcEwan’s first reputation (in the 1970s) was as a writer of scrupulously perverse short stories, an output which placed him in a loose grouping with Martin Amis, labelled the ‘neo-nasties’. The ...
4 September 1997
Enduring Love 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 247 pp., £15.99, September 1997, 0 224 05031 1
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... A young woman is shaken in her understanding of who she is and what she wants. The walking holiday she and her husband have planned now seems, IanMcEwan says, ‘a pointless detour from her uncertainty’. The phrase is full of trouble, of precise and elusive implications. Uncertainty is a path, a destination, a need. Of course we may not like the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Evolution versus Metamorphosis

1 September 2005
... That the human brain is the way it is because it evolved to be that way is what you might call a no-brainer. As Ian Hacking said in the last issue of the LRB, quoting Steven Rose quoting Theodosius Dobzhansky, ‘nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.’ Since we use our brains to make up ...
14 June 1990
by Gay Clifford.
188 pp., £14.99, May 1990, 0 241 12976 1
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Selected Poems 1940 – 1989 
by Allen Curnow.
Viking, 209 pp., £15.99, May 1990, 0 670 83007 0
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Collected Poems and Selected Translations 
by Norman Cameron, edited by Warren Hope and Jonathan Barker.
Anvil, 160 pp., £14.95, May 1990, 0 85646 202 0
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Collected Poems 
by Enoch Powell.
Bellew, 198 pp., £9.95, April 1990, 0 947792 36 8
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... very good at doing. Such a dispossessed fluency seems available to everyone with a flair for catching a fashion. I suspect that a lot of people spellbound today in the intergalactic gameyness of an IanMcEwan novel feel that, yes, this is the thing – I could do this if I had the idea or the time, or, well, the talent. Good writing in this academic sense is, or seems to be, held in common ...


Frank Kermode

3 December 1981
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 296 pp., £6.50, November 1981, 0 571 11769 4
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Exotic Pleasures 
by Peter Carey.
Picador, 192 pp., £1.95, October 1981, 0 330 26550 4
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... is clearly a favourite topic, the fascist ravages of big business, a war of extermination against the hordes of unemployed. It seems usual for those who would praise Carey to reach for the name of IanMcEwan as a comparison, but there isn’t, beyond the element of fantasy, much resemblance: McEwan has much more assurance and resource, and so has Raymond Carver, a writer virtually unknown in this ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Malcolm Gladwell

4 December 2008
... Last month, IanMcEwan announced that we have eight years left to save the planet from global warming. The timeframe seems to be based less on the scientific evidence than on the audacious hope that Obama’s ...

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