Sunday, November 29, 2015

Books: The Cement Garden By Ian McEwan

(Drivebycuriosity) - The novel "The Cement Garden" by Ian McEwan has been on my radar for many years. In the year 1978, when the book got published, the novel made a splash because of the provoking plot. Finally I read the small book (just 138 pages  amazon) and enjoyed the weird but gripping story (this is a spoiler free blog. You can find an elaborate analyses here literature ).

The novel is a very dark family story, maybe the novel´s message is: "Family first", even that the protagonists went way to far. The story is about Julie, who is 17, Jack (15), Sue (13) & Tom ( around 6). The book is written in first person and narrated by the pubescent Jack, which is part of the challenges of the book. The kids live isolated in a house in an abandoned area far from the civilization. Early in the book their live changes dramatically which starts a chain of events which get more & more disturbing.

McEwan created a strange and unique - almost exotic -  atmosphere that reminds me a bit of Daniel Defoe`s Robin Crusoe even that the plots are very different. It is a psychological thriller about adolescents in an extreme situation and touches topics like adolescence, puberty, family bindings, exploring sexuality, dilapidation, grief, curiosity and more.

I admire McEwan`s economic but eloquent style. His precise & analytical observations and his almost forensic descriptions remind me also of Nabokov´s Lolita. I could see strong influences from Sigmund Freud, especially the scientist´s insights into the maturation of sexuality. The frequent descriptions of the sexual aspects are intense & honest and belong to the most erotical and poetic I have ever read.

"The Cement Garden" is still an exciting read after all these years. The book is a distburbing masterpiece and belongs to the canon of world literature.

P.S. For illustration I used still from the 1993 same named film with Charlotte Gainsbourg.

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