026) The Black Dogs by Ian McEwan, finished March 21
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! BOYS AND GIRLS! FRIENDS OF ALL AGES! BEHOLD THE AMAZING WONDER READER! HE READS UPSIDE DOWN! HE READS WHILE WALKING! HE'S . . . . THMAZING THE WONDER READER!
People are amazed by the simplest things. I'm always getting people coming up to me amazed that I can read and walk at the same time. And students are consistently astounded when I read from the book on their desk which is, wait for it, UPSIDE DOWN from my vantage.
It's not that hard, people.
For a while now I've been meaning to ironically read an entire book upside down while walking. I had the thought it might be sensible to pick something in large print and as our local library had The Black Dogs in large print and because I've been wanting to read one of McEwan's more uncanny books, I chose this.
In the end, large print might not have been any easier. McEwan doesn't have the simplest vocabulary and this book is loaded with French to boot. Also --- the length of his paragraphs! And the lack of decent margins! And the crappy choice of font!
And I broke down on reading the whole thing while walking when stuck at a school activity with nothing to do but sit and read with occasional interruptions for two hours.
But I did read the entire thing with the book upside down and I would estimate 80-90% while walking.
The book itself was okay. Not nearly as good as Atonement or Chesil Beach although it does share certain thematic elements.
I found the book's entire premise fine, but McEwan takes so long to get to the story every character is fixated on from page one that I wanted to strangle him. Although aesthetically it actually works out fine, it does make his narrator seem like a dope.
Basically, a young couple honeymooning in postwar France runs into two black dogs. From the experience one becomes a mystic while the other remains strictly rational. Conflict ensues.
Did I mention I read this book upside down?