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Book 10

  1. Meredith, Martin — The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence (736 pages)
  2. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o — Wizard of the Crow (766 pages)
  3. Coetzee, J.M. — Life & Times of Michael K (182 pages)
  4. Saint-Exupery, Antoine de — The Little Prince (101 pages)
  5. Brunner, John — Stand on Zanzibar (661 pages)
  6. Dahl, Roald — Fantastic Mr Fox (79 pages)
  7. Walker, Barbara — TEENY-TINY and the Witch-Woman (29 pages)
  8. Shakespeare, William — A Midsummer Night's Dream (23 pages)
  9. Powers, Richard — The Time of Our Singing (631 pages)
  10. McEwan, Ian — In Between the Sheets (134 pages)

Page count: 3342.

I suppose it was bound to happen. Although I haven't read as much as I'd like this year, everything I've read has been great. So it was just a matter of time before I encountered a real dud.

I was seduced (or perhaps "got suckered in" is more appropriate) by the back-cover blurbs and description. I re-read them again last night, a bit more carefully, and realized that only one of the blurbs refers to In Between the Sheets, and that indirectly: In Between the Sheets is a collection of short stories, and one of the blurbs praises McEwan's short stories, though I am starting to think it referred to other short stories. The NYRB couldn't possibly be praising these short stories! And as for the blurbs from Fowles, the NYTBR — What's the difference between the NYTBR and the NYRB anyway? &mdash, and the Financial Times, they were only praising McEwan, not anything contained in this slim volume.

I'm sure McEwan is a fine writer. His works seem well regarded in general, and I do have a copy of Atonement awaiting me on my shelves. This detritus, on the other hand, should never have been collected into a volume.

The stories read like an adolescent boy's masturbatory scratchings: a pornographer chemically castrated when caught two-timing two nurses; a gorilla expressing anxiety over his human female lover's loss of interest in him; a filty rich old man who falls in love with a high street mannequin; and so on. I'm certainly not squeamish about sex in literature, but I expect some sophistication, something more than being lurid for the sake of being lurid. I kept waiting for some moment of profound insight, some twist that would give the stories relevance or meaning or something, but that moment never arrived.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
treacle_well
Aug. 16th, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
Atonement isn't like those stories at all, so don't let your bad experience with them make you to hesitant to pick up the copy on your shelf.
spwebdesign
Aug. 19th, 2010 11:58 pm (UTC)
I figured as much. He is too well regarded for these stories to be representative.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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