First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
In his triumphant new novel, Ian McEwan, the bestselling author of Atonement, follows an ordinary man through a Saturday whose high promise gradually turns nightmarish. Henry Perowne – a neurosurgeon, urbane, privileged, deeply in love with his wife and grown-up children – plans to play a game of squash, visit his elderly mother, and cook dinner for his family. But after a minor traffic accident leads to an unsettling confrontation, Perowne must set aside his plans and summon a strength greater than he knew he had in order to preserve the life that is dear to him.
At just like that, another week has passed us by. As most of us has been locked down owing it to an invisible enemy that is plaguing the world over, we barely notice time as it dwindles down. In a matter of months, our lives have been shrouded in a veil of uncertainty. Who’d have thought that a virus can reset everything and hold the world at a stand still. A world once teeming in activities swirling into a whirlpool of obstinacy that was rarely seen.
In my tiny corner of the world, my mind is battling its own brand of procrastination. This slow down in my once fast-paced life is badly needed as it is making me reflect and see things in different perspective. This makes me understand the main character in Ian McEwan’s Saturday. Considered as one of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, it relates the events that unraveled in one Saturday of the main character, Henry Perowne’s life.
But it is no simple introspection. McEwan vividly weaves small scenes that leave indelible marks on the reader’s mind. Through a tableau of simple scenes – a father finding time to bond with his son and discuss political matters, a son visiting his aging mother, two competitive individuals playing squash – McEwan showcased his uncanny ability of capturing simple day-to-day activities and make them memorable. Not once did these scenes feel boring. What perhaps worked is that these scenes were enriched with subtle but intricate details.
I am nearly done with the book. Again, I am enthralled by McEwan’s slice-of-life stories. The story happens in a single day but the story was finely textured by flashbacks that seem to characterize most of McEwan’s works. Through this, he pulls the reader into the hems of the prose’ tapestry. It’s nearly three years since I last read a work by the Man Booker Prize-winning author but Saturday reminded me of his subtle but masterful strokes. With how my first two McEwans concluded, I am expecting Saturday’s conclusion to be anything but explosive.
There is something so understated about McEwan’s writing style. It is candidly laced with nostalgia, and thankfully, not the type that is nauseating. This makes it easier to relate with the characters and understand the story. It may not be as loud as a Rushdie or as a Murakami prose but it still works.
I think I’ll finish it tonight and perhaps this weekend my Asian Literature month will commence. Have a great weekend everyone! I hope you’re all staying safe in the comforts of your own homes.