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Old 16th Dec 2009, 17:16   #391
saliotthomas
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

390 post MacEwan
395 post Martin Amis.

Come on Bill another 6 and you burry him.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 17:24   #392
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

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Does he! I haven't read his full LRB piece (like most LRB pieces I put aside 'to read later'), but in the few phrases Sexton pulls from the piece, it doesn't sound too buffoonish to me.
It was in the New Yorker, not the LRB. I wouldn't call it buffoonish at all (parts are quite good) but it does have a fawning quality to it -- given what you have said on this thread, my guess is that (in a negative way) it would end up confirming most of your critical impressions, even though Wood reaches the opposite conclusion.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 17:32   #393
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

He sounds buffoonish because he praises Atonement for denying the reader narrative satisfaction and making us aware of our desire for narrative manipulation. For one thing, Wood should be aware Atonement's conclusion is what is popularly known as a "twist ending", which is pretty popular in the kinds of thriller narratives that he thinks have no place in serious literary fiction. So why does Atonement skate by?

He's also a buffoon to imply that not every work of art ever produced was not manipulative. I hate when that word is used as a pejorative. Calling a work of art manipulative is like complaining that trees have leaves on them.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 17:36   #394
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

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Originally Posted by KevinfromCanada View Post
It was in the New Yorker, not the LRB.
Could it have been published in both, as these journals occasionally do? The link I have is definitely LRB.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 17:50   #395
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

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Could it have been published in both, as these journals occasionally do? The link I have is definitely LRB.
Wood has obviously been on a MacEwan kick. Here's the quote from the Evening Standard:
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There are more profound criticisms to make of McEwan's novels. In a thoughtful essay recently, James Wood reflected on McEwan's wish to "incite a naked hunger in readers" and his frank admission, in that New Yorker profile, that "narrative tension is primarily about withholding information".
I remember the New Yorker article but can't link to it because it is now in the archives. They are different articles -- my memory of the New Yorker one is that it is quite a bit longer. I'd forgotten about the LRB one that you link to.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 17:55   #396
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

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Originally Posted by saliotthomas View Post
390 post MacEwan
395 post Martin Amis.

Come on Bill another 6 and you burry him.
You really seem focused on my comments, ST, to the exclusion of, well, pretty much every other member of the Palimpsest.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 17:55   #397
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

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He sounds buffoonish because he praises Atonement for denying the reader narrative satisfaction and making us aware of our desire for narrative manipulation.
Does he? I thought he praised Atonement for providing the reader with narrative satisfaction, while simultaneously pulling the rug out from under their feet with a "conjuring trick". "It shouldn’t be possible, but Atonement wants to have it both ways, and succeeds in having it both ways." (Now quoting from the full piece.)

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He's also a buffoon to imply that not every work of art ever produced was not manipulative. I hate when that word is used as a pejorative. Calling a work of art manipulative is like complaining that trees have leaves on them.
Or like calling a literary critic elitist. Isn't it clear, though, that he uses 'manipulations' in the sense of narrative 'tricks' (the piece is titled "the manipulations of Ian McEwan"), rather than the nuts and bolts of the author's invisible hand which, as you say, are present in every book ever written? And it's misleading to say he uses the word as a pejorative; he uses it as a descriptive, on the one hand observing that "I dislike strong narrative manipulation", and on the other calling McEwan "a compellingly manipulative novelist."
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 18:19   #398
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

I don't think all literary critics are elitist. Michael Dirda, for example (if you haven't read him, you should). As for the rest of it, well, fair enough. I haven't read the full piece, and was going by the "backlash" article, which even that I skipped through, due to the focus on Saturday, which I haven't read (but am now).

Still, I do take real issue with Wood's idea that thriller techniques "can seem over-manipulative in serious literary fiction" (whatever that last thing is). That's just a willfully blind attitude. Then again, I'm quoting the backlash piece, which may not be Wood's actual view. So, as usual, forget I said anything.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 18:23   #399
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

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Could it have been published in both, as these journals occasionally do? The link I have is definitely LRB.
Here's a link to the New Yorker profile, which is by Daniel Zalewski, not James Wood. Sorry about the confusion -- wish these damn paid journalists could get their facts right so that we "packed with resentment" bloggers did not repeat and compound their egregious errors.
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Old 16th Dec 2009, 18:33   #400
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Default Re: Ian McEwan

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Originally Posted by KevinfromCanada View Post
Here's a link to the New Yorker profile, which is by Daniel Zalewski, not James Wood. .
That's the only issue of the New Yorker I bought this year, and that piece put me off buying it again. As you said, very fawning.

On another note, this thread has more subplots and conflicts than the average McEwan novel. Enjoying it immensely.

The backlash piece had one succinct criticism of McEwan which I think is valid:

Quote:
McEwan's real subject is the way the smallest incident can have lifelong consequences, whether it be the needlessly disastrous honeymoon evening in On Chesil Beach or Briony's interception of the letter in Atonement.
He invariably weaves these accidents into tightly knit narratives and in so doing, perhaps, is untrue to the sense of contingency in life that he really wants to convey.
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