I think I’m right, therefore I am

Now that you have finished the novel find some reviews to read. I found an interesting one for you to start with on the Guardian site. Here’s an extract:

There’s an odd moment in Ian McEwan’s new novel, when the narrator, Joe Rose, is being interviewed by the police after a murder attempt in a restaurant. Asked what flavour of ice cream he was eating before the shooting, he replies: ‘Apple’. It’s not simply that this goes against the testimony of other witnesses, who remember the attack occurring fractionally earlier, the sorbets tainted with blood before they could reach the lunchers who had ordered them, but it contradicts the version we were given earlier, minimally detailed but easily remembered 10 pages later: ‘The flavour of my sorbet was lime, just to the green side of white’.

Immediately before he lies to the police, or to himself, or merely the reader, Joe has been thinking about a truth free of self-interest, doubting whether a willed objectivity can save us from our engrained habits of mind, and has even asked explicitly, in a sentence standing alone as a paragraph: ‘But exactly what interests of mine were served by my own account of the restaurant lunch?’

McEwan is anything but a crude writer, even when he chooses extreme subject matter, and such a sharp-elbowed nudge to the reader is out of character. To introduce at this late stage an unreliable narrator is perverse: it recapitulates on the level of gimmick, the novel’s central theme, that unreliability is an ineradicable part of what we are.

Read the rest here.


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