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First Love, Last Rites [Paperback]

Ian McEwan
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 13 2000
The first collection of short stories -- winner of the Somerset Maugham Award.

Taut, brooding and densely atmospheric, these stories show us the ways in which murder can arise out of boredom, perversity can result from adolescent curiosity, and sheer evil might be the solution to unbearable loneliness.

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First Love, Last Rites + In Between The Sheets + The Comfort of Strangers
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Review

“A talented and genuinely imaginative writer, McEwan’s details often grow into strange, powerful images… the ironies, throughout this impressive collection are tellingly weighted.” -- Julian Barnes

“A brilliant performance… There’s an assured and terribly macabre depravity about Ian McEwan’s short stories… as if some of the characters from early Angus Wilson had been painted by Francis Bacon.” -- Anthony Thwaite, Observer

"Ian McEwan writes to shock and succeeds -- All his stories have a feeling of impending evil -- It is a tour de force of concision, and funny, too, in a deadpan manner." -- TLS

"A brilliant performance -- There's an assured and terribly macabre depravity about Ian McEwan's short stories -- as if some of the characters from early Angus Wilson had been painted by Francis Bacon." -- Observer

"His writing is exact, tender, funny, voluptuous, disturbing." -- The Times

"The Maestro." -- New Statesman

"McEwan has -- a style and a vision of life of his own...No one interested in the state and mood of contemporary Britain can afford not to read him." -- John Fowles

"A sparkling and adventurous writer." -- Dennis Potter

From the Back Cover

“A talented and genuinely imaginative writer, McEwan’s details often grow into strange, powerful images… the ironies, throughout this impressive collection are tellingly weighted.” -- Julian Barnes

“A brilliant performance… There’s an assured and terribly macabre depravity about Ian McEwan’s short stories… as if some of the characters from early Angus Wilson had been painted by Francis Bacon.” -- Anthony Thwaite, Observer

"Ian McEwan writes to shock and succeeds -- All his stories have a feeling of impending evil -- It is a tour de force of concision, and funny, too, in a deadpan manner." -- TLS

"A brilliant performance -- There's an assured and terribly macabre depravity about Ian McEwan's short stories -- as if some of the characters from early Angus Wilson had been painted by Francis Bacon." -- Observer

"His writing is exact, tender, funny, voluptuous, disturbing." -- The Times

"The Maestro." -- New Statesman

"McEwan has -- a style and a vision of life of his own...No one interested in the state and mood of contemporary Britain can afford not to read him." -- John Fowles

"A sparkling and adventurous writer." -- Dennis Potter

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Revolting! April 22 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I recommending avoiding this book as the stories in it are disturbing, and horrible.
This is the first book I have ever burned rather than inflict it on anyone else.
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By Daniel Jolley TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Approaching Ian McEwan for the first time, it seemed only natural that I begin with this collection of eight short stories, his first published work. I must say that McEwan leaves quite an impression on the reader. In fact, these stories are quite unlike anything I have ever read. One is hard pressed to determine just how to feel about the stories told here, attempting to integrate shock, sympathy, understanding, depression, ennui, enlightenment, and all manner of other reactions into some sort of vision of enlightenment. The first thing that becomes apparent is McEwan's boldness and unique vision; he uses some words that never find themselves into the published works of most other writers, but his employment of them seems to be a matter of craft rather than an act of gratuitousness. The very first story, Homemade, is a somewhat disturbing and surreal account of incest, with a lad seeking to understand the type of world his adventurous friend lives in engaging his younger sister in an act of sexual exploration. The story ends quite suddenly, leaving me to interpret the deeper meaning completely on my own. Solid Geometry is sort of the odd duck in this collection, with its theoretical mathematics feel distinguishing it from its counterparts. The story works quite well in describing the protagonist's uneasy relationship with his wife, but the kicker at the end comes off as just a little too esoteric. Cocker at the Theatre is the most outre (and short) story in the collection; personally, I didn't get a lot out of it, but it does demand attention.

For the most part, the reader stays on morbid ground. Some have described these tales as having a definite aspect of horror to them, but I would not equate them with horror at all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very original, somewhat morbid and quite weird July 12 2000
Format:Paperback
First I feel I should list the stories included in this collection, something almost all reviewers seem to forget to do, leaving those who are looking for specific stories in outer cyber-space:
1. "Homemade" 2. "Solid geometry" 3. "Last day of summer" 4. "Cocker at the theatre" 5. "Butterflies" 6. "Conversations with a cupboard man" 7. "First love, last rites" 8. "Disguises"
These stories are about weird people on the margins of society. Most of them have been written in the first person, in a way turning them into a kind of confession. Though it is written as if the 'subject' of the story is a unique scientific specimen set free in order to observe its behaviour, sometimes one identifies with ("Homemade" ?), or is repelled by the charachter ("Butterflies"). Often one may like and disklike the subject as the story goes along. What makes these stories interesting are the characters, the crazy people making their sometimes funny, sometimes abysmally pathetic confessions.They are only alike in that the subjects are all men. My favorites are "Homemade", full of black humor and irony, and "Disguises" where a boy, forced to dress at home like a girl by the aunt that has adopted him, begins to <think> as a girl, and goes on to see himeself as his own girlfriend. Complex? Read the story. "Coker" is special in that it is written in the third person, and it seems like a joke on modern theater: a narration about a group of down-and-out actors in the rehersal of a play that recreates the sexual act under the direction of a cynic homosexual. Though funny, its quite short. It originally appeared in Time Out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The sentences ooz beauty Aug. 29 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Yet they still churn your stomach and question your own thoughts on the matters raised. I was only 13 when i first read this book and it did quite honestly (cliche) change my life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a good read Aug. 1 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is the best book by Ian Mcewan that i've read. One can have opinions about the subject matter, but i think that Mcewan goes about it whit great care
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