Saturday, May 7, 2011

Review of Enduring Love

Author: Ian McEwan
First published in 1997
Thickness: 247 pages (Vintage edition)
Personal rating: 2 stars

Enduring Love is about a man with a frantic obsession for our protagonist, after both witnessing a terrible accident.
While on a picnic in the Oxford country with his wife/girlfriend/significant other, Joe Rose watches a balloon, the kind people use to enjoy the countryside from above, in trouble. Due to strong winds and a miscalculations of the 'driver' the balloon ends up floating towards power lines with just a little boy in the basket.
But not before Joe and a few other bystanders try to keep the balloon grounded. This fails and they have to let go, which all of them but one do. The one who keep hanging on, is being jerked upwards only holding a rope and comes to a lethal fall a little later.

The others of the so-called rescue team watch him fall and try to make sense of it all, most of all try to put the biggest blame of themselves, trying to see it as an act of God, not something they had in control themselves.

During this turmoil, one of the other bystanders, Jed Parry, that helped in trying to save the boy, develops an unhealthy obsession with Joe. He believes that Joe led him on and is now terrorising him, wanting so much and giving so little.
Jeds obsession leads to devastating results, while Joe himself faces the ridicule and disbelief of his immediate surroundings.
In the aftermath of a terrible accident, Joe has been led to a path where he could lose it all by the means of one disillusioned man who believes he needs to show Joe what love is and show him the path to eternal salvation.

Ian McEwan has been letting me down lately.
I've read Atonement which is simply extraordinary and gave him a place amongst my favourite authors. Not having read anything else of his, I was positive this has to be a guideline for his other works of fiction and not a one time lucky fluke.
Now, I'm not so sure anymore. Early this year I tried to read Solar which I abandoned early, and while I finished this novel, I wasn't blown away by it. All the time I thought there would be an incredible twist, but it followed the most cliché path it could've taken.
And while I'm trying to find the emotional state of Joe or Jed, all I seem to waddle through is a lot of egocentric rambling that seems to have as only reason to show the characters intelligence, by which I translate it to be the author's intelligence.
Now, having had a try at the mighty pen myself, I do not judge how a author does his magic, but in this case it was a bit much. Too many side subjects that didn't help the story, it just distracted me too much and I kept thinking a work of non-fiction would be an option for Ian McEwan to have a vent for his all-over-the-place intelligence. It seemed out of place here.
I believe, but I might be wrong, that when someone is faced with something terrible, perhaps even life-threatening, he isn't thinking of Keats or some references to biology or science, even being highly educated. In the end, the survival instincts of people are pretty much the same, whether they work at a car factory or give lectures on quantum physics.

Only two stars because I expected better, but I'm giving him one more chance to claim fame, before he is being bumped from my favourite author list.