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First Love, Last Rites: Stories Paperback – January 13, 1994
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"Ian McEwan's fictional world combin[es] the bleak, dreamlike quality of de Chirico's city-scapes with the strange eroticism of canvases by Balthus. Menace lies crouched between the lines of his neat, angular prose, and weird, grisly things occur in his books with nearly casual aplomb." --The New York Times
"McEwan is a splendid magician of fear." --Village Voice Literary Supplement
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Top Customer Reviews
From a pickled penis, in the first story; to childhood incestuous rape, in the second; to a third story (perhaps the best of all) with the least amount of sexual innuendo; to the fourth, depicting uncontrollable on-stage public sexual intercourse; to the fifth, sexually motivated murder; to the sixth, about a masturbatory recluse; to the seventh, the "art" of which, eluded me almost entirely; to the eighth, involving what I consider child abuse brought on by a self-obsessed, cross-dressing caregiver.
Are the stories written well? Hell yes.
McEwan is exquisite (present tense) and this book (1975) proves that "exquisiteness" is not just a recent development with him. It is the subject matter that I find objectionable. And not so much in an "immoral" sense as much as in an "unappealing" sense. In these stories he is dealing with such grotesque imagery, that I find it difficult to find these particular stories applicable. For the most part, they are about the kind of stuff that even the newspapers omit from their most disturbing back pages.
Maybe I don't want to look that close.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
The opening vignette "Solid Geometry" is fascinating sci-fi-cum-horror fare. I couldn't help stifling a chuckle at the inventive way in which the protagonist finally "got rid" of his wife. "Homemade" about the awakening of a boy's sexuality via the only means available to him is another winner, both terrifying and funny. "Butterflies" and "Conversations With A Cupboard Man" are more conventional stories about loners and the devastating effect of repression. "Last Day Of Summer" is a gentle reminder that "still waters run deep" with grotesques. I don't think I got the essence of "Cocker At The Theatre" though it seems to be about sexuality and control and how they don't mix. The last two stories are to me the weakest in the collection. The title story seems tame and listless, ie, it goes nowhere, while the closing vignette "Disguises" is too befuddling to make any sense of. Is the aunt just mad or is she a closet cross dresser and a dominatrix in her little mad house ? Too much of a mindbender for me.
"First Love, Last Rites" is a qualified success. The highs are truly excellent but be prepared for a couple of disappointments.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A collection of short stories of bizarre, grotesque, and at times familiar, characters. Dark, dark stories. Hard to read. Hard to stop reading.Published 10 months ago by Bif
Great book. I have bought several of Ian McEwan's books and find them to all be really great reading. So, I will be looking for more.Published on March 14, 2014 by Jeanne Root
Let me start off by saying that I am not a fan of Ian McEwan. I just can't get into the consistent theme of relational turmoil. Read morePublished on February 2, 2014 by Shai Ehrmann