Book 2* for the year: “Atonement” by Ian McEwan. The best thing I can say for McEwan — maybe the best thing I can say for any author right now — is that I trust him. I reached a point in this book that I had reached once before, and the first time, I put the book down, unwilling to see something horrible unfold. This time, I pushed through and it was worth it. The story is of a young girl who witnesses, as the book cover says, “a flirtation” between her older sister and the son of the family char-lady and then distorts what she’s seen and what happens next and commits a crime. But the story is also her search for atonement. It is so beautifully told and so masterfully constructed that having three pages of description — pages that on reflection barely move the plot other than to establish a character in the world of that moment — fly by, built paragraph upon paragraph in such a way that it was impossible for me to stop reading. Every next page offered just enough to push me forward, and yet it was never chaotic. Never too dramatic. A really, really lovely work.
“Saturday” is sitting on the ledge by the door, waiting to be opened and read. We’ll see if I can next make it through that one.
In other, distressing news, I seem to have some kind of little stomach bug. I thought perhaps yesterday I had eaten something disagreeable. I blamed my soy milk (and some of you are now saying, is there good soy milk? Well, yes!), but it turns out the soy is probably not to blame. Have been feeling a bit queasy for most of the day (though also hungry. Bad combo) and came home from hanging out at the casino with and I now have full-on ickiness, aches and that burny fever feeling behind my eyes. Excellent condition for finishing a book, though I wish the completion of every novel by a British writer came with a hand-delivered cup of tea.
*Book 1 was “The Bridesmaid’s Handbook,” which I count because it is a book and I read it and those are the criteria.
** Welcome to the New Year, in which I will finally adopt the New York Times On the Web’s style for citing books and movies in quotation marks. This will be a trying adjustment for me, but… I feel it’s for good purpose.