Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review: Amsterdam by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is one of those writers I've always been dying to read, and for a good reason. I've seen two movie adaptations of his novels and loved both - the beautifully shot Atonement and the trippy The Comfort of Strangers. Both movies suggested that this was an author who, in true postmodernist fashion, likes stirring things up, mainly when it comes to mixing the traditional writing sensibilities and the broken 21st century mentality of his characters.

Then came Amsterdam, which I hear is not one of McEwan's best, and it's only like 200 pages long and incredibly easy to read. I loved it to pieces. If I had to retell it, I'd probably say it's about two old friends grieving after the death of their ex lover Molly. Then they are left to cope with the modern world and acknowledge their own moral and spiritual degradation, until the only solution is something that can be performed legally only in Amsterdam.

A totally modern book, Amsterdam still has a classical feel to it. It's British to its very core, yet it undermines everything that has been the staple of the British lifestyle. Still, it's not a satirical novel - more like a very pessimistic vision of the world, where it's still up to the people to fix what needs to be fixed, but the question is whether they will be able to do it.