Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Review: "Nutshell" by Ian McEwan

Even though I am always excited to read whatever new novel Ian McEwan puts out (although these last few times I’ve gotten them from the library instead of spending money on them), I can’t deny the fact that the quality of his work has gone down. Simply put, I don’t think he has put out a great book since Atonement. Some have been good, like Saturday and solar, but some of them have been quite bad, like his failed obsession with British spies characterized by his dull novel Sweet Tooth. This novel, Nutshell, easily his most unique and experimental novel, lies somewhere in between. It executes its concept successfully, more so than I thought it would, but it can’t help being a rather rudimentary story of infidelity, murder and disconnect, albeit with a very interesting perspective to say the least, that perspective being an unborn child of the treacherous Trudy. Trudy has betrayed her husband, the poetic and thoughtful John for his brother Claude, a dumb and foolish idiot. The unborn sees this and reacts with scorn and pity, as it is able to experience the events as they take place and the emotions they create, but is unable to do anything about them. This narration, surely wise beyond it years (or year), is what sets this book apart and makes it not be terrible. It is at times nihilistic and oppressive, but it is also thoughtful and poignant at times, revealing the deep trenches we fall into attempting the impossible tasks of trying to understand fully the ones we love. It does a good job of distracting the reader from the rather boring love triangle that is playing out, which involves anti-freeze poisoning and visits from the cops. A solid midpoint in McEwan’s oeuvre, one that at least keeps me interested in what he puts out next.

Rating: 3/5

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