Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Can't take my nose out of it.

This is my way of telling you that I'm not dead, I've just been on my fall break drowning in a book and haven't had any inclination to get around to writing that film review of Atonement I promised you guys. It's coming though! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Atonement" by Ian McEwan Review

I've reached an epiphany.

There's a reason why this blog has experienced a period of apathy, neglect, and lonesomeness. And despite all my humblest apologies blaming my tedious workload, the college application process, the search for scholarships, and the demands of everyday life for my absence, there is a far deeper reason for the solitary state of a blog once inhabited by an active blogger. 

I haven't been reading. Not for myself, anyway. I've been stuffed full of coming-of-age short stories, poems, and novels in my AP Lit class, breezed through Their Eyes Were Watching God, and will soon be waltzing straight into Hamlet. But it's been forever since I've stepped into a Barnes and Noble, walked leisurely through the shelves, plucked off a book of my own choice, and actually read it for enjoyment. 

I could just as easily review a book that I've already read, but where's the fun in that? The joy of blogging comes from the inspiration of having just finished a brand new book, and feeling the urgent and slightly neurotic need to tell the world that you've read it and explain just how awful or amazing it is. 

Obviously, I've just finished reading Atonement for the first time, and it has renewed my blogging spirit and set my fingers to mercilessly tapping against the keyboard. 

The novel was amazing. I would trouble myself with establishing protocol with a plot summary, but it's just too good to hold off the praise for later. Atonement is an undeniable literary masterpiece in every identifiable aspect. Ian McEwan captures in engrossing richness the three perspectives of Briony Tallis, her older sister, Cecilia, and the charlady's son, Robbie, woven together by the thread of a series of events that alters the the lives of the characters and pinpoints the essentiality of perception in any story. At thirteen, Briony is struggling with her passage from a juvenile writer into a real novelist. Her problem lies in her lack of understanding of the world. While pondering on this, Briony happens to look out the window and witness an exchange between Cecilia and Robbie, and her misperception of the encounter, combined with the acts that follow, lead to a story with a depth that Briony would never have dreamed of. 

McEwan is genius. Everything about Atonement is sensual and alive--there is life in every object and emotional layering behind each passing observation. Nothing in Atonement is written for the mere purpose of being written, however. Even in the midst of such gripping description, the reader never feels overwhelmed because it is understood that every detail is essential. There isn't any tedium. 

It has also been awhile since I've been so completely pulled into the fictional world and felt as if I was seeing through the eyes of the character, or serving as an invisible presence in their little world that witnesses everything. Atonement did just that, however, literally yanking me out of reality and into the pages. I finished the book in two days, I was so engrossed. 

The syntactical and dictional vivacity of Atonement is magnificent, but all this would be nothing without McEwan's perfect feel for character development, especially in regards to the three main pieces of the puzzle. Briony, Cecilia, and Robbie each have a separate stream of consciousness that is distinct and filled with individuality. Their thoughts and emotions are all on display, and McEwan makes sure to give them each their own psyches. This is the greatest glory of the novel--the way it completely masters playing with perspectives. Everything--the setting, the plot, the supporting characters, and the main characters--is seen through three different lenses (there is a fourth, but only for a little while). It's truly magical, and provides for the best emotional response from the reader. The use of the different viewpoints jerks every heartstring and gives rise to conflicting emotions (which I personally love to have when reading a novel). It also better captures the dynamics of relationships, which are absolutely key in the novel. The relationships between people and the nature of those connections are the driving force behind what makes the novel so captivating, and it is Briony's misunderstanding of them that sets everything into motion. 

The complexities of Atonement and its near perfection are given no justice by my unorganized review. It's simply too hard to explain how brilliant the novel is and what exactly makes it so outstanding. It just provokes that "feeling"--the sense of contentment you feel when you just know you're reading something special. I know that it sounds like a bunch of nonsense now just because of my inability to articulate it, but just read it and I'm sure you'll understand afterwards. 


P.S: Yes, I know there's a movie. And yes, I have watched it. And YES there will be a review following shortly. Watch out for me :) And keep the comments coming. Even when I'm not posting, I always keep an eye on comments and make a point to respond.