Saturday Hardcover – Jan 18 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Crossley offers a smart, measured performance of McEwan's cerebral novel about an ominous day seen through the eyes of Henry Perowne, a reflective neurosurgeon whose comfortable life is shaken following a run-in with a street thug. Crossley's polished English accent is a fine accompaniment to a story that focuses on the people of privileged London, and while most of the novel consists of Perowne's narration, Crossley easily and subtly shifts into a handful of characters, including Perowne's wife, the jumpy goon Baxter and even a hawkish American anesthesiologist. But what truly suits Crossley's approach to the text is his cool, precise, almost distant tone. Perowne is a surgeon and, aside from his frequent ruminations and flights of thought, he is nothing in his actions if not cautious and calculating. In this way, events as far flung as a squash game and lovemaking are broken down in the churn of his mind and lead to conclusions not only about his own life but life in general. The plot has its moments of tension and suspense, but Crossley does an excellent job of capturing the book's real rewards: McEwan's intriguing examination of how we view ourselves, and how even the simplest events can snowball into complex moral dilemmas.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
McEwan's key strategy is to pit reason against chaos and art against arbitrariness as he orchestrates thorny moral dilemmas and menacing situations. This is the structure underlying his Booker Prize-winning Amsterdam (1998), his best-selling Atonement 2002), and this tightly focused, high-performance, stream-of-consciousness drama about one day in the life of a sanguine London neurosurgeon. Henry Perowne is a good man. He loves to perform delicate operations while listening to classical music, and he adores his smart lawyer wife, adventurous poet daughter, and gentle musician son. For him this particular Saturday in February 2003 is a day full of promise, even though he's had a strange night and London is gearing up for an immense protest march against the impending war in Iraq, and even though he gets into a frightening altercation with a twitchy thug named Baxter, a confrontation he escapes by diagnosing his attacker's degenerative condition. It's been said that what makes literature so enthralling is its devotion to detail and its digressions. McEwan is a master of both, and consequently the reader reads this embroiling tale with two minds: one luxuriating in Henry's piquant ruminations on everything from the dysfunctions of the brain to evolution, Iraq, and society's retreat from "big ideas"; the other cued to suspense: how will Baxter exact his revenge? McEwan is as provocative, transporting, and brilliant as ever as he considers both our vulnerability and our strength, particularly our ability to create sanctuary in a violent world. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
A serious professional, Henry's "relaxation" is an intense squash game with his anesthetist. He's approaching the big "five-oh", time when any reflective man will look back on his achievements and disappointments. Henry seems to have few of the latter. His daughter is a poet about to be published. Naturally, with her living in Paris, he worries about her private life. Laced with erotica, her poetry seems to impart much. Perhaps more than Henry wants to hear. Having a daughter is an effective way to age a man. Daisy's intelligent and deeply committed. On this Saturday, she's committed to blocking the Bush-Blair crusade in Iraq. A great march will take place, and Daisy expects her father to participate. His demurral shocks her and McEwan provides a charged confrontation - the "generation gap" is still with us.
Whatever Henry might have wished about attending the march is circumvented by a light road accident. A car brushes his, and he faces a trio of London street toughs. Their leader, "Baxter", is a complex character. His opening line to Henry is priceless.Read more ›
"Saturday Night" seems to be a repeat of the "Enduring Love" story, only less compelling. Both books feature an accident throwing characters, who otherwise would not meet, together and then exploring the unpleasant consequences which follow the chance encounter. Both also have a rational scientist type middle-aged man as the main character, confronted with emotions and situations outside the comfortably rational world of science. Both feature an irrational protagonist. Both central characters end up resolving the confrontation by realizing that rational science cannot provide a solution for everything.
While the book is extremely well written, MacEwan has also fallen into the trap of many contemporary authors (see Iain Banks) of trying to appear hip by mentioning current music etc - here we have references to Steve Earle's El Corazon, a girl sustaining a skull fracture falling out of a tree while watching Radiohead.
This is not his best book by any stretch, but compared to most modern fiction it is still pretty good.
I was interested to read that the central character, Perowne, preferred William James to his "fussy brother" Henry, because the latter would "run round a thing a dozen different ways than call it by its name". This was much the way I found this book. Good editing could perhaps reduce it to a short story of some merit, but as a full length novel, it is weak.
Most recent customer reviews
I definitely had mixed feelings about this novel, but in the end it was one that really resonated with me. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Emma
Great. Unlike some, I loved the digressions and the 20-page squash game.Published 11 months ago by Pete
I did not like this man or his family..I got to the end by skipping pages & because I paid for it! He blamed himself for the accident? He hurt Baxters feelings? Grow a pair doc. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2012 by zoda
Saturday, Ian McEwan's single-day probe into the psyche of Henry Perowne, a London neurosurgeon, is a brilliant work which explores the neurosis and fears of the post-9/11 era. Read morePublished on April 7 2010 by Garp
One of those tedious "I can describe every detail" books with little or no basis in any sense of purpose or meaningful reality. Don't waste your time or money. Read morePublished on March 26 2010 by S. Penn
Although this is not one of his best, this still was a classic engrossing Ian McEwan read.Published on Nov. 19 2007 by Leah MacFarlane
There are few novelists today who can write transformative fiction. McEwan is one of them.
This is a story well suited for its middle aged readership, exploring the joys and... Read more
good details about medical aspects but the plot really isn't page turning
i somehow finished the book
i have not looked for another book by the author yet and don't think... Read more
Having been disappointed by Atonement, I expected little from this book. I was surprised to find myself enthralled from the first word. Read morePublished on July 16 2007 by Samantha