Saturday, October 08, 2016

"Nutshell", a short novel by Ian McEwan

"Nutshell" is an unusual book.  It has a murder, a birth, an unborn narrator listening from the womb, and a dysfunctional relationship propelled by desire, greed, and the need for oblivion.  It is set in today's world, and the digressions that interrupt the narrative are often as interesting as the story at hand, or umbilical cord one could say.  The listening and feeling fetus is quite insightful.

The male lover in the doomed pairing is "not even a colorful character, no hint of the smiling rogue. Instead, dull to the point of brilliance, vapid beyond invention... whose repeated remarks are a witless, thrustless dribble, whose impoverished sentences die like motherless chicks..."

The listening one's lament, "Perdition.  A poet's word.  Lost and damned.  I am a fool to let my hopes rise a point or two, like a futures market after a rout and before the next."  That can be identified with.

From climate change to global politics, the narrator chimes in.  "Fresh-bearded young men with beautiful skin and long guns on Boulevard Voltaire gazing into the beautiful, disbelieving eyes of their own generation."

As the silent observer details the world's urgent problems, he wonders, "If, as the new cliché goes, this is biblical, the seas are not parting for them, not the Aegean, not the English Channel.  Old Europa tosses in her dreams, she pitches between pity and fear, between helping and repelling... she wants to help but she doesn't want to share or lose what she has."

The outlook for the one finally released into the world, chaos but eagerly awaited freedom.


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