Wednesday, February 6, 2008
Birthday (4) - Dinner
More birthday wishes from loved ones woke me from my nap. And, as it was still raining "a cantaros", I decided to finish On Chesil Beach instead of going out again.
There are many things that amaze me about McEwan. Two leap to mind ahead of others. The first is his ability to minutely capture the awkwardness with which we translate our desires into actions and the tragedy of that. The second is the denseness of the backdrop he draws for his stories, which at the level of plot can usually be reduced to a confrontation between two forces and the consequences that flow from it. In the case of On Chesil Beach, the story is of a young English couple in the early 1960’s on the first night of their honeymoon and what comes to divide them.
This story is in some ways a more quotidian version of McEwan’s other novels, one in which the characters’ choices lead to loss that is much more familiar than the violence that marks his earlier work, but perhaps more poignant for its familiarity. It left me disconcerted and sinking a little at the end, as some of his other novels have done, but in a deeply satisfying way, if you know what I mean. I walked around the apartment holding the book for a little while after I’d finished and then I put it away, thinking I wanted to write something about it.
Then, of course, my mind turned again to food. Since lunch had been so excessive, dinner was more of a snack, but a pretty one. All of my market bought goods came out, as did the wine. I had the cheeses with quince paste and tomato confit and the fruit, which was perfect and sweet. I didn’t have room for the cheese cake or chocolate, but, you needn’t worry, they won’t go to waste.
It was a good birthday, after all. And I’m not sorry I shaved my legs; they felt quite nice against my crisp, clean sheets.