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Amsterdam ()

Not for the first time, this Ian McEwan novel struck me as an attempt to write a noir that fails to comprehend the form. The burial of photographer/writer Molly Lane--who was notoriously free with her sexual favors--sets off a death dance between her husband and three of her former/current lovers. The latter include an arch-conservative British Foreign Secretary, Julian Garmody, a newspaper editor, Vernon Halliday, and a composer, Clive Linley. Problematically, the femme fatale is dead as the curtain rises and her beaus are all execrable. While story theoretically builds towards tragedy, the fact is that we want bad stuff to happen to all of them and are sorry that a couple survive, even if their reputations are in tatters. the author has carved out an odd notch in British Literature in which the reader is invited to despise every character but somehow expected to care what they do to each other. That we don't means that the quality of the writing and even the black humor are meager compensation for the thankfully brief reads.


Grade: (C)


See also:

Ian McEwan (4 books reviewed)
British (Post War)
Ian McEwan Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Ian McEwan
    -BIO: Ian McEwan (British Council)
    -ENTRY: Ian McEwan: British author,/a> (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
-AUTHOR PAGE: Ian McEwan (Penguin)
    AUDIO ESSAY: Wrestling with Orwell: Ian McEwan on the art of the political novel (Audio Long Reads, from the New Statesman)
    -ESSAY: We are haunted by ghosts – and Vladimir Putin’s sickly dreams (Ian McEwan, 3/05/22, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: George Orwell outside the whale: What the writer teaches us about politics and the imagination in a time of crisis. (Ian McEwan, 12/09/21, Spectator)
-INTERVIEW: Ian McEwan: ‘The perfect novella is always just out of my reach’ Guardian readers: The Atonement author answers your questions on why he continues to write to what he would do if he wasn’t a novelist (The Guardian, 9/16/22)
    -INTERVIEW: Ian McEwan on ageing, legacy and the attack on his friend Salman Rushdie: ‘It’s beyond the edge of human cruelty’ (Lisa Allardice, 9/02/22, Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: Ian McEwan, The Art of Fiction No. 173 (Interviewed by Adam Begley, ISSUE 162, SUMMER 2002, Paris Review)
    -ARCHIVES: Ian McEwan (The Guardian)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Ian McEwan (Film Reference)
    -Featured Author: Ian McEwan: With News and Reviews From the Archives of The New York Times
    -WIKIPEDIA: Amsterdam
    -EXCERPT: Chapter One of Amsterdam
    -ESSAY: Brexit, the most pointless, masochistic ambition in our country's history, is done (Ian McEwan, 1 Feb 2020, The Guardian)
-ESSAY: Ian McEwan’s Back Again! (Issa Gonzalez, August 31, 2022, B&N)
    -READING GUIDE: Amsterdam (Super Summary)
    -READING GUIDE: Amsterdam (Book Browse)
    -READING GUIDE: Amsterdam Reader’s Guide (Penguin Random House)
    -BOOK CLUB: Booker club: Amsterdam by Ian McEwan: Characters without personality, comedy without mirth – how McEwan's worst novel won the Booker is a deep mystery Ian McEwan (The Guardian, 6 Dec 2011, Sam Jordison)
    -ARTICLE: 'Amsterdam' by Ian McEwan Wins Booker Prize (SARAH LYALL, 10/28/1998, NY Times)
    -INTERVIEW: 'The Voice of Modern British Fiction' PW Talks with Ian McEwan (Andrew Rosenheim, Feb 25, 2005, Publishers Weekly)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Ian McEwan Interview: How We Read Each Other (Louisiana Channel, Mar 12, 2014)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Author Ian McEwan talks about his latest novel, “Amsterdam,” for which he was awarded the 1998 Booker Prize (Charlie Rose, 01/25/1999)
    -PROFILE: Ian McEwan's Humorous Path To `Amsterdam' (Sylvia Rubin, Feb. 3, 1999, SF Chronicle)
    -INTERVIEW: Ian McEwan, The Art of Fiction No. 173 (Interviewed by Adam Begley, SUMMER 2002, Paris Review)
    -PROFILE: McEwan recounts his missteps (Corydon Ireland, April 18, 2012, Harvard Gazette)
    -PROFILE: The End of Innocence (DAPHNE MERKIN, MARCH 10, 2002, LA Times)
    -ESSAY: The elegant extremist: Ian McEwan has always tempered his shocking stories with polished prose (John Self, July 2023, The Critic)
-ESSAY: The Fivesquare "Amsterdam" of Ian McEwan (ROBERT E. KOHN, 2004, Critical Survey)
    -ESSAY: Reasons to read Ian McEwan, and the ones to avoid: Five of the best, and three of the worst (Eileen Battersby, 9/28/14, Irish Times)
    -ESSAY: Human (In)Consistencies in Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam (Florentina Anghel, December 2016, Romanian Journal of English Studies)
    -ESSAY: Question of Reception Ethics: Amity and Animosity in Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam (Jen-chieh Tsai, Intergrams)
    -ESSAY: The Ethical And Moral Dilemma As Reflected In Ian Mcewan‘s Amsterdam (S.Manikandan, Dr.F.Suji Brindha Theodore, The International journal of analytical and experimental modal analysis)
    -ESSAY: Behind the Scenes: A Study of Denial and Hypocrisy in Ian McEwan’s AMSTERDAM (Darintip Chansit, 1/01/13, Thoughts)
-ARCHIVES: "amsterdam" (The Millions)
    -VIDEO ARCHIVES: Ian McEwan (You Tube)
-REVIEW: of Atonement (Martyn Bedford, Literary Review)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam by Ian Mcewan (WILLIAM H. PRITCHARD, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Michiko Kakutani, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Nicholas Lazard, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Charles Wyrick, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (The Complete Review)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Craig Seligman, Salon)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Valentina Dordevic, Booksist)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Michael Dirda, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Alain de Botton, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (The Modern Novel)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (All Writes)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Bartleby)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Victoria Pritchard, Everything Express)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Reading Matters)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Andrew Blackman)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Bob Corbett,
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (C G Fewston)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (Peter Mathews, English Literature Today)
    -REVIEW: of Amsterdam (We Need to Talk About Books)
    -REVIEW: of On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan (Daphne Merkin, NY Sun)
    -REVIEW: of Lessons by Ian McEwan (Niamh Donnelly, Independent ie)
    -REVIEW: of Lessons (Beejay Silcox, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Lessons (The Modern Novel)
    -REVIEW: of Lessons (Joseph O'Connor, Independent))
    -REVIEW: Of Lessons (Adam Begley, The Atlantic)
    -REVIEW: of Lessons (David James, The Critic)
    -REVIEW: of Lessons (Claire Lowdon, Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Lessons (Heller McAlpin, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of Lessons (Holly Smith, Washington Independent Review of Books)

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