Posts Tagged ‘history’

A Prologue

Freitag, Januar 18th, 2013

The following is the beginning of the prologue I wrote just now to a story that has been floating around my head for longer than I can remember – four years at least. I like the story, but I somehow could never bring all the pieces together even inside my head. My working title was and still is “My Second Life”. It’s a silly title and I need to come up with something better soon before abandoning the idea completely, but it’s the only title I have right now so now it’s public. The subtitle is “A Tall Tale”. The point is that the entire story is beyond ridiculous. It’s silly. It’s preposterous. And I think it’s a lot of fun.

But I fear that I may be alone in that assessment. There is no way anyone would ever want to read and, more importantly, publish this. Furthermore, I was worried that people would think it was autobiographical. So it never bothered me much that I couldn’t make it work quite right in my head. And so the bits and pieces of it I’d written over the years just sat around on my computer and didn’t amount to much. Until I had an idea for how to start the other day and decided to just give it a go and see where it leads me. Please understand that this is a very, very rough first draft. I wrote it in under an hour just now. There are many things wrong with it. But I thought it might be fun to put on here. Also, this is only about two thirds of the prologue. The rest gives a much clearer indication of where the story is headed and I don’t want to share that quite yet. So basically, this is a pointless exercise in patience. Read on at your own risk.

(weiterlesen …)

Book Review – Atonement

Mittwoch, November 14th, 2007

In the wake of the release of the film adaptation of Atonement (Watch the trailer!), I felt it was about time to polish and hone my “British literature of the late 20th century” knowledge a bit. So for a couple of days, “Atonement” by Ian McEwan was collecting dust on my book shelf while I dreaded actually starting to read it, fearing it would be both dull and lengthy. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Even though it is not a short story, it has many qualities of one, but never gets boring. The novel is divided into three parts plus a sort of epilogue, with the first part easily the longest. But although it lasts for half the book, the first part only deals with the events of one day. The other parts are similar, taking still photographs in a story that lasts from 1935 to 1999.

This means that the writing is very attentive to detail as well as often showcasing the thoughts and memories of the protagonists. The novel starts on a hot summer day in 1935, when the 13-year old Briony witnesses a scene between her older sister Cecilia and the charlady’s son Robbie. As the events of the day slowly unfold, shown from the perspective of several characters, the vivid imagination of the writer-to-be Briony coupled with tragedy create a catastrophe that will change all their lives forever.

The second and third part deal with Robbie’s way in the war and Briony’s atonement respectively, before the epilogue, set in 1999, gives a new spin to the events that makes the story all the more real as well as terrible. The second part, set immediately before and through the British evacuation of continental Europe in 1940, is a haunting war story in its own right. Even though I have read many stories about war as well as seen countless movies dealing with the inhumanity and cruelty of war, McEwan manages to show effectively the horrors of that first year of World War II, both on an individual level and on the greater scale of the millions of people affected. This alone makes the book worthwhile, the backstory of the love between Cecilia and Robbie, of the betrayal of Briony and her atonement for it make this novel truly great. McEwan manages to tell their story with loving detail, yet keeps a certain distance to all characters to allow the reader to see events from several points of view. The only thing that the books suffers from is a certain tendency, especially in the first part, of McEwan to go off on to many tangents and use unnecessarily long sentences. But apart from that I would recommend the book to anyone who is not afraid to be absorbed into the sordid lives of its protagonists.