Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer Reading

I work in a small public library. Every so often there's one book that makes the round through the staff. A group of us has very similar tastes, so one will read a particular book and come in to work one day and convince the rest of us we need to read it. I did this a few weeks back with Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck. The most recent book making the rounds is Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach. One woman came in one day raving about it. In particular, she had listened to the audio book and said that McEwan was a wonderful narrator.

I'm a big fan of Ian McEwan. I'm always amazed at how long he can build the exposition of his stories and bring the ending together so quickly, yet satisfactorily. One book in particular, Enduring Love, was a book club pick. I went into book club not having read the last 70 pages. Since my rule is, if I didn't read it, I can't ask you not to spoil it, we had an extensive discussion about the ending of the book. I couldn't believe how much I had missed. New characters, weapons, all sorts of good stuff. And yet, the ending didn't feel rushed or contrived.

Now, On Chesil Beach is a much smaller book. And since I'm a dedicated advocate of audiobooks, I checked this out on my coworker's recommendation. Wow. There's not really much more to say but, Wow. It is such a simple story, essentially taking place only over a very short period of time. It is beautifully constructed. The language is exquisite. He transitions from Edward's thoughts to Florence's seamlessly, weaving a picture of two people so constrained in their own thoughts. McEwan's narration is wonderful. And there's a very interesting interview with him at the end. I was very grateful for it, because it did address a question I had about the story. A small detail that I could have lived with my own assumptions about, but was pleased to hear that I did pick up on something intentional. If you are looking for a wonderful, quick read, I can't recommend this highly enough. (In fact, I recommended it to another coworker who has recently become hooked on audio, but she was already reading the book at the suggestion of the woman who got me listening.)

Now, to finish The Little Friend and Slammerkin before July 21st. Because then, it's all Harry all the time so that no one can ruin it for me..

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