we are on goodreads, presumably, to meet disturbingly contrary opinions, so that degree, I'm chuffed (haha UK only word)... I'm chuffed that one of the publishing industry professionals here has put out a contrary take on Arthur Golden's MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. I both understand and agree with this book's 800000 ratings status, to the degree that Japanese culture captures something universal, so we also understand that, for example ,Russians, Indians, and South Africans are all touched by this book. but it takes somebody who is embodying the contradictions of the industry itself to put out a "take down" of the work. anyway, investigate, o anonymous internet reader, for your edification, noting that even the Harry Potter works and Life of Pi, I think, are only at half a million ratings. (wish I could check further; this is mobile written).
mobile typing also means no hyperlinks. alas. when I had access to the land Internet, I do recall fondly following (and creating) links, picture. but text only perhaps contains its own opportunities for engagement. formal book reviews, of course, tend to be hyperlinkless. there's tradeoffs everywhere. final note (and last time to mention it, I do affirm this), mobile goodreads site means no "space remaining / character remaining" notification at the bottom. it's liberating from the necessity to try to "challenge write" a full, maximum-permissible sized review.
okay, now the book.
what to say. an analysis of this work has to begin with the fact that I'm in atonement for ATONEMENT. wah, couldn't resist that. what I'm getting at is that I rated ATONEMENT 3/5 in response to the buzz and the breathless praise about it. too many people, too many sales. bestseller status. the end result is that I thought the story narratologically weak, and lush visuals do not compensate. I didn't like the twist. but, rating Ian McEwan's master piece / magnum opus at the uncomplimentary 3 now instills some obligation for a more liberal treatment of his back catalog. well, yesterday or the day before I put the 4.2 or 4.4 SWEET TOOTH at the 5. but I'm still riding that guilt roller coaster. so here, too, maybe this 4.6 gets the full 5.
COMFORT OF STRANGERS is McEwan's Venice novel. there's a Venice expert here on GR, but even generalist readers kno that Mann, Waugh, and Forster all did a Venice novel. can a late 20th century writer DARE to put out a Venice book considering the weight of those names? call this point one (1) why McEwan gets a plus.
second, this second McEwan book succeeds in his trademark structure and re-read strengths. you can't go through it once; you have to see it at least twice. early sections riffing off Bowles' SHELTERING SKY and influences from John Fowles noted. conclusion: COMFORT OF STRANGERS is a sort of meditation on cool Nordic, Protestant gender-relatioships versus hot-blooded, Catholic, mediterranean sensuality. it is curiously tangential to the WP entry, which is perhaps a commentary on the literariness of Wikipedia editors. one of the first McEwan books where I found myself finding true divergences from the WP entry, which, at least, is spoiler free. (one must give it that much). the work, as any WP reader will note, is about two couples, but I think McEwan's later output confirms that one of his preoccupations is rational Englishness versus the alternatives. you might not like either couple, but one or the other will seem more familiar.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The Comfort of Strangers
the WP entry does a lot. this is my sixth McEwan so he is the surprise hit of winter 2013 for me, and though presumably at this point, half-a-dozen books, I'm allowed a certain further tone of authoritativeness in these reviews, I guess I can mostly just say that this does have a shot at being his bst, it is limited in location to Venice over a couple weeks or less, it explores issues similar john Fowles's exploration of gender relationships, and it passes a large amount of commentary on the modern Beta male known to US and UK citizens and the "Mediterreanean temperatment." McEwan manages to not just vocalize, but preserve in literary form for posterity a culture shock, a culture difference that millions have surely noticed. the ending, of course, is the entire work.