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In Between the Sheets Mass Market Paperback – May 5, 1955

2.7 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
Book 5 of 5 in the Ian McEwan Series

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Editorial Reviews


"In his short stories, the effect achieved by McEwan's quiet, precise and sensual touch is that of magic realism -- a transfiguration of the ordinary . . ."
-- New York Review of Books (UNKNOWN ) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

Call them transcripts of dreams or deadly accurate maps of the tremor zones of the psyche, the seven stories in this collection engage and implicate us in the most fearful ways imaginable. A two-timing pornographer becomes an unwilling object in the fantasies of one of his victims. A jaded millionaire buys himself the perfect mistress and plunges into a hell of jealousy and despair. And in the course of a weekend with his teenage daughter, a guilt-ridden father discovers the depths of his own blundering innocence.
At once chilling and beguiling, and written in prose of lacerating beauty, In Between the Sheets is a tour de force by one of England's most acclaimed practitioners of literary unease. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Berkley (September 1, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425047199
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425047194
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,844,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ian McEwan is a critically acclaimed author of short stories and novels for adults, as well as The Daydreamer, a children's novel illustrated by Anthony Browne. His first published work, a collection of short stories, First Love, Last Rites, won the Somerset Maugham Award. His other award-winning novels are The Child in Time, which won the 1987 Whitbread Novel of the Year Award, and Amsterdam, which won the 1998 Booker Prize.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I'm a big, big fan of Ian McEwan's. I've read and loved virtually everything he's written, especially "Black Dogs" and "Atonement", so it's doubly disappointing for me to say that "In Between The Sheets", his second collection of short stories, is without doubt the worst and only substandard piece of work he has put out so far. Granted, what we have here is very early McEwan but that doesn't excuse the amateurish and shoddy quality of these mostly pointless vignettes. "First Love, Last Rites", his earliest work, wasn't McEwan at his prime but it was more than halfway decent and contained more than a trace of promise of his developing craft as a short story writer and novelist. "In Between The Sheets" just seems like scraping the bottom of the barrel.
I can't name anything in here that is remotely memorable. Indeed, it was so bad I hardly finished the book. "Pornography" is mundane and pedestrian. It's been done to death (and better) by others. "Reflections Of A Kept Ape" almost succeeds - could the ape be the retarded child of the woman ? are the ape's sexual fantasies just its hallucination ? I haven't a clue what "Two Fragments" is all about. "Dead As They Come" is ludicrous. By the time I got to "In Between The Sheets", I lost interest and couldn't wait for this slim volume to end.
The publishers should quietly delete this title from McEwan's catalogue as it diminishes his tall standing among the great contemporary writers of today.
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Format: Paperback
Ian McEwan has always been the doyen of the macabre. In this, his second collection of stories, his language can be both resonant ('I do not care for posturing women but she "struck" me') and profane ('I love the scent asparagus lends the urine'). Whether describing the 'love' of a tailor's dummy or bondage games in a metropolitan setting, McEwan's prose is masterly and his insights unsettling. Excellent but not as great as his earlier volume, 'First Love, Last Rites.'
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Format: Paperback
This is a collection of seven short stories by Ian McEwan from 1978. The main theme that runs through the book is sex. The sexually activity is within the spectrum of kinky and depraved. However, it could also be looked upon as pornographic but without the titillation. What I mean by that is that most of the sex is suggested but not always described in great detail. But, it could be construed as pornographic simply due to whom and what is described as having the sex. There is sex between a man and a mannequin; between a woman and an ape and the wet dreams of a man that involve a pre-pubescent girl.
I tried so hard to not use the following adjectives to describe the book; `dark' and `disturbing' as I am sure they have been used many times to describe this set of short stories. However, it is almost impossible not to use the afore-mentioned adjectives as they perfectly describe two major aspects of the book.
I believe the book reflects Great Britain during 1977 and 1978. The country was beset with strikes, IRA bombings, political unrest, the `Winter of Discontent' was just around the corner, the gaining popularity of the Conservative party, (The Thatcher era was only a year away), and women's palpable fear of the Yorkshire Ripper. There is one story in the book of a dystopian future set in Great Britain. But attitudes to sex in the seventies were a bigger threat.
The seventies are seen by many historians as the decade that saw an explosion of promiscuity, abortion and pornography. The pill became widely used in the seventies and so it appeared as if everyone was having sex with anyone. Sex became recreational rather than perfunctory.
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Format: Paperback
In these sketches, McEwan examines sexual and relationship dysfunctions. Each story has a bizarre twist-- which the characters never seem to recognize as strange-- that is used to emphasize the futility of human emotion. The effect is similar to "magical realism," where an author uses supernatural elements but treats them as commonplace. Here are a few examples:
"Tales of a Kept Ape" is told in first-person, through the eyes of a frustrated lover who cannot understand why the woman he adores has alienated herself from his affections. Bizarre twist: The jilted lover is a pet ape the woman has been sleeping with.
In the title story, a middle aged divorced father worries that his fourteen year old daughter has fallen into a lesbian relationship with an older woman. Bizarre twist: The older woman is a three-foot dwarf.
In "Dead as They Come", we watch an obsessive, arrogant millionaire fall madly in love with a woman, only to destroy the relationship out of uncontrollable jealousy. Bizarre twist: The woman is a department store mannequin.
My complaint of these stories is that the bizarre "twists" are never explicitly dealt with by the characters. It's as if McEwan wants us to believe that loving an ape, or a dwarf, or a mannequin is no less strange (or less hopeless) than loving another human being. So, each tale becomes a plodding, why-can't-we-get-along diatribe that is neither interesting nor enlightening.
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