Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ian McEwan - Atonement

I am a fan of the British author, Ian McEwan. His novels and stories have always been prolific and dark, forever searching to the deepest core of humanity . . . and then some. When I was first introduced to his works, I did not like him at all: to me, he seemed too much for my brain to handle. My first attempt at his book Atonement made me cringe and swear never to read another one of his works. Months later, I discovered four used copies of his other works in a bookstore and so, being the bibliophile I am, grabbed them all in hopes of possibly rekindling a relationship with him. To this day, I still have those same copies of books. Amsterdam, the first shorter story I read, threw me for a loop and made me ravenous for his words. The door had been opened and the floods appeared. I read his other works with that same passion and found myself actually understanding his style which for me was a blessing. So it was at this point that I worked up the courage and nerve to try Atonement again.
From the first chapter to the very end, my eyes were locked to the pages. The fated triangle of Briony, Cecelia, and Robbie was unlike anything I had ever read before. When I closed the book, I felt I was still there, watching the story unfold like a play except it was reality.
When I heard that the book would be turned into a movie, I was overjoyed: here was the chance to see his words come alive on the screen. I waited patiently for the release date, hoping like hell Memphis would get the movie. When it came out in the US on December 14th, I checked the move listings and did not see it. I was crushed. I felt cheated and let down; Memphis is not NYC or Atlanta, but surely we were cultured enough to get such a movie.
That all changed this past Friday, when I learned that our art movie studio, Studio on the Square, did get it. I woke up Friday with horrible stomach pains but I was determined to watch it no matter what. I chewed several Tums, ate heartily, and worked all day with a smile on my face. The pain did leave but I was in such a good mood that I forgot when I actually began feeling better. 4:30 came and I raced home and began the countdown to when I would see it. When I arrived at Studio later that night, I actually went to the wrong theatre room, walking in on an earlier playing version of it. I quickly left, hiding my face in embarrassment, and found the right one.
From the opening credits to the end, I moved only once in my seat. I wanted to cry because here I was, watching Ian's work portrayed on the screen. It made me proud to be a writer (and published too!)
When it was over, I wanted to scream my joy to the world but I moved my excitement down to just a sigh.

For those of who you have not read the book, here is a breakdown: 1935 England. Cecelia Tallis is a young wealthy British woman who is in love with the groundskeeper's son, Robbie, an intelligent man destined to become something wonderful and great. Robbie is in love with her too but too shy to say anything so he decides to send a letter to her proclaiming his feelings for her. He gives the letter to Cecelia's younger sister, Briony, only to realize he sent the wrong letter; the letter he gave to Briony was actually a declaration of how much he wanted to kiss her cunt. Briony, intelligent but naive, reads the letter and begins a set of events that will cost the young lovers their lives as well as their love for one another.
That is the gist of the story and I will not tell any more of it.

Hats off to you, Ian.

Absinthe Dreams,


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