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Carissa Green Reads

I read widely from many genres. Perhaps this blog will feature fewer ratings and reviews, but I certainly intend to write about my reading life - it's the subject I most find myself wanting to talk about.

Currently reading

D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of WWII
Stephen E. Ambrose
Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad
M.T. Anderson
The Path Between the Seas
David McCullough
Chekhov Four Plays
Anton Chekhov, David Magarshack
The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs
Walter Kaufmann, Friedrich Nietzsche
A Kierkegaard Anthology
Robert W. Bretall

Oh, Ian

— feeling beaten
The Comfort of Strangers - Ian McEwan

I've been reading my way through Ian McEwan's oeuvre these last several years, including one of his books on my summer reading list each year. Made it through most of his 21st century works, so now I'm working my way backwards and picking up the new ones as they come along. 



Today, I read "The Comfort of Strangers," published in 1981 and short-listed for the Booker Prize. It's a brief novel and reads quite speedily. 


Having read "Amsterdam," and being aware that his early literary nickname was "Ian Macabre," I was on my guard. And yes, it was horrible. I came out a bit scarred and sad.


Here's the best thing I can tell you: Take Somerset Maughm's "Up at the Villa" and put it in a bowl. Mix with the kind of psychological drama you find in McEwan's "Amsterdam," but do NOT add the layers of narrative complexity that make such books as "Atonement" and "Sweet Tooth" so remarkable. Dump in a plot that reads like a very special true-crime episode of "Dateline: NBC" and mix well. There you have it.


This novel is a direct literary antecedent to Gillian Flynn. I've read both her "Gone Girl" and "Dark Places" and appreciated them. Same thing with "Comfort of Strangers." Appreciated. Didn't "like." (That's why I petulantly rated it much lower than any of his other books.) But if Gillian is your bag, you might love this one. 


Me, I need to recover my peace of mind. Next fall, he has a new novel, so perhaps I won't have to visit Ian Macabre again any time soon.