I went, I listened to differing opinions, I'm still unimpressed by Amsterdam.
Hard to believe this is the same McEwan from Atonement, The Cement Garden and Enduring Love, but others were able to see the ending I despised as an appropriate bit of black humor. Such humor sneaks by me sometimes. Occasionally, reviews will discuss how darkly humorous a book is, and to me it's just plain crap and not funny at all. I always wonder what those reviewers were smoking, or how much they were being paid.
I thought the ending of Amsterdam was contrived, and written as though he was in a hurry to wrap things up. Most of the librarians agreed with me. There were only a couple hold outs. Those we beat about the head with bookmarks until they saw the light.
And it won the Booker? Ah well. Maybe it was to balance out for another year he should have won but didn't. It's like an umpire in baseball who calls a ball a strike, then when the other team comes up he does the same, to even things out for his former bad call. And both times he's booed, poor chap, but at least the playing field is then evened.
But here are a few quotes I did like:
"He had swallowed the hemlock, and there'd be no more tormenting fantasies now. This thought too was comfort, so that long before the chemicals had reached his brain, he had drawn his knees toward his chest and was released."
"...it seemed to Vernon that he was infinitely diluted; he was simply the sum of all the people who had listened to him, and when he was alone, he was nothing at all. When he reached, in solitude, for a thought, there was no one there to think it."
"In the semidarkness, during the seconds it took George to fumble for the light switch, Vernon experienced for the first time the proper impact of Molly's death-the plain fact of her absence. The recognition was brought on by familiar smells that he had already started to forget-her perfume, her cigarettes, the dried flowers she kept in the bedroom, coffee beans, the bakery warmth of laundered clothes ... until now he had never really missed her in his heart, or felt the insult of knowing he would never see or hear her again."
See? Beautiful writing. It was just a crap ending. And did I mention the ending was stupid?
I'll get beyond it, but it'll take me a while. Actually, having gotten a nice armload of really tasty review books in the mail today, I'm already over it. At least there'll always be Atonement, The Cement Garden, Enduring Love, and everything else McEwan has written. I just hope he doesn't let me down again... I'd hate to have to beat him around the head with bookmarks. All in the service of literature, though.