"You absolutely must read Ian McEwan's......"( whichever tome has caught the admirer's fancy). Given the gushing and ultra-positive recommendation's, and of course the multiple award winning novels, I have succumbed twice. Actually that's two and a half times as I gave up half way through one book.
It would be ridiculous of course not to admit that McEwan is clever, scholarly and a master manager of plots. He also has a handy manner of creating strong tensions of the sort that compels the reader to read on.
But, for me, McEwan is just too clever by half. He seems to have a stock method of-self-parody would be too strong a statement as what he does is so bleeding obvious. His stock in trade is a book within a book and the worst part of that, frankly, indulgence, is the reference within the internal book to the external one.
In "Atonement' for example his subject submits a book to his publisher who rejects it for the ornamentalism of his descriptive phrases. McKewan indulges in this same ornamentalism throughout. "The sun glinted off the gravel and through the door's transom illuminating the tiles etc etc". It is twee to agree with the reader who is put off by this over descriptiveness, whilst indulging in it as if the false rejection gives the author free license.
McEwan's latest book is "Sweet Tooth", which writing even one of his true believer's with whom I discussed my distaste for it agreed "was not his best work".
The over the top, too clever by half, mannerist writing comes into full bloom so to speak. The end twist of plot where the supposed male secondary character, who was apparently the subject of the books female protagonist author, turns out to actually have "written' the work in the females "voice".
That this could be seen coming a mile away just adds to the weakness of the work and, yet again, we have the book within a book formula.
Twice and a half bitten is more than twice and half shy, and when asked in future if I have read the latest McEwan I will reply that having read one, I have read them all, and have no intention of reading anymore.