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A Guy's Moleskine Notebook

Thoughts and reflections on works of fiction and literature. Pondering of life through pictures and words. Babbling about gay rights. Travelogues and anecdotes.

  • [1] Annie Proulx: Brokeback Mountain
  • [2] Arthur Golden: Memoirs of a Geisha
  • [3] Yu Hua: To Live
  • [4] Alan Hollinghurst: The Line of Beauty
  • [5] Colm Toibin: The Master
  • [6] Carlos Ruiz Zafon: The Shadow of the Wind
  • [7] William James: The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • [8] Charles Higham: The Civilization of Angkor
  • [9] Graham Greene: A Burnt-Out Case
  • [10] Dai Sijie: Mr. Muo's Travelling Couch
  • [11] Alan Hollinghurst: The Swimming-Pool Library
  • [12] Mikhail Bulgakov: The Master and Margarita
  • [13] Colm Toibin: The Blackwater Lightship
  • [14] Alan Hollinghurst: The Folding Star
  • [15] Ross King: Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling
  • [16] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Brothers Karamazov
  • [17] Jonathan Franzen: The Corrections
  • [18] Colm Toibin: The Story of the Night
  • [19] John Banville: Shroud
  • [20] Leo Tolstoy: Resurrection
  • [21] Peter Hessler: River Town, Two Years on the Yangtze
  • [22] Ian McEwan: The Atonement
  • [24] Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Love in the Time of Cholera
  • [25] Ignacio Padilla: Shadow without a Name
  • [26] Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose
  • [27] Richard Russo: Straight Man
  • [28] Fyodor Dostoevsky: Notes from Underground
  • [29] Alan Hollinghurst: The Spell
  • [30] Hermann Broch: The Death of Virgil
  • [31] James Baldwin: Giovanni's Room
  • [32] Ken Kesey: One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
  • [33] Xingjian Gao: One Man's Bible
  • [34] C. Jay Cox: Latter Days
  • [35] Harper Lee: To Kill A Mockingbird
  • [36] William Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew
  • [37] Daniel A. Helminiak: What The Bible Really Says about Homosexuality
  • [38] James Baldwin: Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone
  • [39] Kenji Yoshino: Covering - The Hidden Assault of Civil Rights
  • [40] Italo Calvino: If, On a Winter's Night A Traveler
  • [41] Arthur Phillips: The Egyptologist
  • [42] George Orwell: 1984
  • [43] Michael Warner: The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and Ethics of Queer Life
  • [44] Andrew Sullivan: Virtually Normal
  • [45] Henry James: The Wings of the Dove
  • [46] Jose Saramago: Blindness
  • [47] Umberto Eco: The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
  • [48] Dan Brown: Da Vinci Code
  • [49] Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
  • [50] Ken Follett: The Pillars of Earth
  • [51] Leo Tolstoy: War and Peace
  • [52] Michael Thomas Ford: Alec Baldwin Doesn't Like Me
  • [53] Jonathan Franzen: How To Be Alone
  • [54] Jonathan Lethem: The Fortress of Solitude
  • [55] Matthew Pearl: The Dante Club
  • [56] Zadie Smith: White Teeth
  • [57] Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Double
  • [58] Jose Saramago: The Double
  • [59] Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance
  • [60] Heinrich von Kleist: The Marquise of O & Other Stories
  • [61] Andrew Holleran: In September, the Light Changes
  • [62] Tom Perrotta: Little Children
  • February 23, 2006

     

    [22] The Atonement - Ian McEwan

    When the novel begins with Briony Tallis's writing a play to celebrate the return of her cousin, one might not be able to identify the immediate, or most conspicuous connection to the book's title. She might be all contentedly wrapped up in her musing and bathed in oblivious daydreaming. Propelled from the depth of her ignorance, or innocence some sympathetic readers deem, the 13-years-old witnessed flirtation between her sister Cecilia and Robbie, the son of the charlady. Bearing with an exhilaration to protect her sister, Briony perpetrated a crime that not only changed all their lives but also enmeshed the family into an estrangement fixed in the unchangeable past. This crime is serious enough to qualify for a redemption.

    As a result of this misdemeanor, the most affectionate memories of the Tallis were bleached colorless through burning bridges. Briony's perpetration was obviously in the wrong but what about her motive? Once she was finally able to reveal that Robbie was the incarnation of evil and that she could never forgive him his disgusting mind, Briony embarked on this proxy-Pride-and-Prejudice justification to vindicate her view. The Atonement follows the repercussions of her crime through the public upheaval of World War II. The carnage and chaos of war that once seemed distant to her private anguish now compounded the severity of her misconduct.

    The Atonement explores the ineluctable consequence of this misconduct prompted by a child's incomplete grasp of adult relationships. In following Briony's secret purge of her wrongdoing, McEwan delivers a story redolent of the nuances of love, guilt, and forgiveness. The unfettered objectivity of the prose provokes one's sympathy with the vulnerability of human heart.

    5 Comments:

    Anonymous Danielle said...

    This was a good book. I even ordered it from the UK when it came out, but then I made the mistake of loaning it to someone, and I never got it back. Ugh.

    2/27/2006 10:27 AM  
    Blogger Matt said...

    Danielle-

    I make it an unspoken rule that I won't loan books for anyone, at least my treasured, favorite titles. I do have my guests in mind so I keep sometimes a second or even a third copy of titles like Bulgakov, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Ishiguro, Mashima so they could borrow.

    I freak out at coffee stains, cups cicrle marks, dog-earred books, and other damages or blemishes on my books. Am I too much?!

    2/27/2006 3:13 PM  
    Anonymous Danielle said...

    I try not to loan out books anymore either. I also hate it when something is returned all dog eared. I look for the nicest copy in the bookstore, and I hate library books that are grody--I usually try and request only newly published books (where I am the first to read it!)--LOL. So no, you aren't alone!

    3/02/2006 7:16 AM  
    Blogger JamesV said...

    I disposed of this book to a friend with a sense of disappointment. Impressed by the elegance of the writing, but put off by the general lack of a sense of direction. I fear that McEwan fails in all of his novels in plot development. I was frankly not keen on being transported to Dunkirk or to a hospital.
    McEwan is on the fringe of a novel of ideas and of reaction, perhaps in the shadow or aftermath or supposition of real events. And I mean "real" only in the novelist's appreciation.
    The novel is longer than it needed to be, lacks wit and style in its central plot line, and depends on
    bizarre and fantastic developments.

    6/15/2010 7:52 AM  
    Anonymous apad 2 said...

    Quite worthwhile information, thanks for your post.

    2/18/2012 1:46 PM  

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