Facebook alerted me to a message from one of my former students the other day. I've made a couple of formatting changes and removed identifying information in the interest of anonymity (even though there's nothing embarrassing here, except, perhaps, for punctuation). What started as a brief reply became a sort of treatise on Ian McEwan. See for yourself...
June 5 at 12:10am
I just finished Atonement. Actually I finished it yesterday but I'm still sad. But I did what you said and I read the book first and I'm really glad I did. What did you think of it though? Did you like it?
June 8 at 11:13am
Great to hear from you! I've been owing you an email for a long, long time. For what it's worth, your last note to me is still starred in my inbox, awaiting a proper reply. It just seems I never feel that I have the time or energy to give you the response you deserve. But every time I see it there, starred in my inbox, I think nice thoughts about you--so that's good.
Anyway, I thought Atonement was great. The structure and approach were smart, and the story was compelling. Plus McEwan's writing is always beautiful.
I tend to prefer his novels that are set in contemporary time. (He alternates--historical, contemporary, historical, contemporary.) The first of his that I read was Saturday. It's a wonderful account of one day in the life of a man and his family. That flowing prose that always accompanies McEwan's novels is coupled with a keen understanding of his main character's psyche and deep research into his profession (brain surgery). It feels absolutely real.
Anyway, I've read several--but, happily, not all yet!--of McEwan's novels. He writes the classiest of thrillers. His latest novel, Solar, was published a couple of months ago. I haven't tackled it yet, because I'm waiting to reward myself with a book I've been itching to read.
Anyway, pick up any of McEwan's other novels and make yourself into a real aficionado of his work. You'll be glad you did, and I'll be glad to have more books to talk to you about.