Thursday, February 16, 2017

Nutshell: a novel / Ian McEwan, 197 pp.

Trudy and her lover Claude set out to murder Trudy's husband John, who also happens to be Claude's brother.  Their plot is hatched from  Trudy and John's marital home, a run-down but high-value London townhouse which is actually filled with decaying trash, in case we need another pointer to Hamlet's rotten state of Denmark.

The twist is that the story is narrated not by Trudy and John's adult son Hamlet but by their unnamed fetus.  As I read Nutshell, I kept thinking that I should have been annoyed by this novel-as-conceit, but in fact I loved it.  McEwan is confident and skilled, but he also keeps in mind the fact that he's writing for an audience.  He strikes a bargain with his readers:  he'll write the novel he wants to write, but he promises to keep his readers engrossed, amused, surprised, and entertained.

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