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Saturday by Ian McEwan

Saturday (original 2005; edition 2006)

by Ian McEwan

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8,060187398 (3.69)181
Authors:Ian McEwan
Info:Anchor (2006), Edition: 4th, Paperback, 304 pages
Collections:Finished 2013, 1001 books, Fiction, Your library

Work details

Saturday by Ian McEwan (2005)

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» See also 181 mentions

English (166)  French (6)  Dutch (4)  German (3)  Norwegian (2)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (1)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  Hebrew (1)  All languages (187)
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
This book was a disappointment to me. I was expecting something as well written and entertaining as Atonement, but turned out to be the opposite.
The premise of the book was promising, following the events of a doctor's life on a Saturday- his day of rest and relaxation. A fairly boring but easy day. One of his plans is to have a game of squash with one of his colleagues at the hospital, but on the way he has a minor accident with some young thugs. The accident leads to him getting beat up, but not before he diagnoses that the principal guy has a degenerating ailment. The doctor's reveals this to the hoodlums that makes the principal guy, Baxter is his name, lose face and his dominant position with his friends. Although the doctor manages to escape and continue with his life, you can imagine that the thugs are not happy, and are probably looking for him. This is the final part of the story. But in the mean time he goes to have the squash game with his partner- where McEwen spends an inordinately amount of time narrating the game, the hits, the misses, and the frustration of the doctor. This, to me, was the most boring part of the novel even though I used to play handball (i.e., squash without the rackets) when I was in college. ( )
  xieouyang | Aug 27, 2014 |
I've really enjoyed the two previous Ian McEwan's I read but not so much this one. It started out promising and I was even riding the ebbs and flows of his stream of consciousness but I really lost interest in the later half of the book and I ceased to care even mildly about the characters and I really didn't need a multi-page description of brain surgery to round it all off with.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
A Joycean day-in-the life story. This time instead of a ruminating, dd agent in Dublin, we have a hyper observant neurosurgeon in London. The surgeon's day off moves along crisply, on schedule, as he interacts with his (other) self-actualized family members. But the day is punctuated by events of sheer terror as well. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Jun 28, 2014 |
This seems to me to be an autobiographical book with its focus on science, faith and the place of reading in a person’s life. The amount of esoteric medical terms, especially near the start of the book, do give a sense of authenticity, of realism to the character of Perowne, a neuro-surgeon, but at times it seemed to me that McEwan overused them. Seeing a young woman showing signs of having taken heroin, Perowne thinks of the ‘moment’s chemical bliss that will bind her as tightly to her misery as an opiate to its mu receptors’, a comparison which may be apt for a neuro-surgeon to make but one which probably means nothing to the average reader.

Still, I did enjoy the opening. Although it is in one way, I suppose, already dating, the result of its many references to the contemporary situation in Iraq in 2003, the book just uses these references to launch McEwan’s investigation into his favourite concerns, ones which really are relevant to us all: why people believe in a god, the dilemmas of intervening in other nations’ conflicts (on the news this morning about Iraq some eleven years later as I write), the value of fiction . . . Just as his previous novel, ‘Atonement’, was a self-conscious examination of what fiction meat, so this one addresses the issue when McEwan has Perone question its value: ‘He doesn’t want to spend his days lying, or even sitting, down. Nor does he really want to be a spectator of other lives, of imaginary lives . . .The times are strange enough. Why make things up?’ And when Perowne considers magical realism with (nameless) allusions to specific books, I found myself tending to agree, having been in exactly the same situation of not being able to continue such a book, the first Harry Potter in my case, once he had been rescued from his bedroom by a flying Ford Anglia.

What I particularly like about the first fifty or so pages is, in fact, the sense of realism it gives me, right down to the description of his squash shoes with their ‘sharp smell, blending the synthetic with the animal’ and his description of squash courts with ‘their clean white walls and red lines, the unarguable rules of gladiatorial combat, and the score’, ones which to me really sum up the whole feeling of being on a spartan squash court.

And looking back on the novel what impresses me is the way McEwan has Perowne continuously making observations that either extend my thoughts or crystallise them. Extending my thinking was when he talked of a banner people waved in their anti-Iraq war march: ‘Not in My Name goes past a dozen times. Its cloying self-regard suggests a bright new world of protest, with the fussy consumers of shampoos and soft drinks demanding to feel good, or nice’. Before reading this, I hadn’t really thought of the implications of ‘not in my name’ but I feel McEwan has captured that subtext accurately.

Then there are the generalisations that he makes, ones which make this book seem so relevant to me, so much part of our existence now, something that obviously holds McEwan’s attention. ‘In general, the human disposition is to believe. And when proved wrong, shift ground. Or have faith, and go on believing. Over time, down through the generations, this may have been the most efficient: just in case, believe’. This is the sort of writing that has me rereading and pondering, something McEwan invites the reader to do. Of the brain Perowne/McEwan says ‘the wonder will remain, that mere wet stuff can make this bright inward cinema of thought, of sight and sound and touch bound into a vivid illusion of an instantaneous present, with a self, another brightly wrought illusion, hovering like a ghost at its centre.

Then there’s something I’d been thinking about recently – the way my mother’s week, as a 1950s housewife, was chockablock with being a housewife – how could it have taken all her time? Perowne remembers his mother ‘who gave her life to housework, to the kind of daily routines of polishing, dusting, vacuuming and tidying that were once common, and these days are only undertaken by patients with obsessive compulsive disorders’.

I also like the way the way McEwan phrases himself such as when Perowne thinks of how unlikely that his mother, whose own mother tended to neglect her, would talk to her in her dementia – how strange it would be for her ‘in a remote future, a science fiction date in the next century [to] talk of her all the time’. It’s that ‘science fiction date’ that so captures for me the distant remoteness of the future.

There are many points of life that McEwan touches on and it’s this stream of them that I found made it a rich read. I also enjoyed the plot, the climax perhaps coming in Part 4 rather than the final part but to me the ending wasn’t an anti-climax as it was more about contemporary reflections illustrated by the plot rather than a plot-driven books with a few thoughts attached. ( )
  evening | Jun 17, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
Overall, however, Saturday has the feel of a neoliberal polemic gone badly wrong; if Tony Blair—who makes a fleeting personal appearance in the book, oozing insincerity—were to appoint a committee to produce a "novel for our time," the result would surely be something like this.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, John Banville (pay site) (May 26, 2005)
[T]he lambent, stream-of-consciousness narrative that Mr. McEwan uses so adroitly in these pages. In fact, "Saturday" reads like an up-to-the-moment, post-9/11 variation on Woolf's classic 1925 novel "Mrs. Dalloway."
We have learned to expect the worst from Ian McEwan. Since his debut collection of stories, First Love, Last Rites, his fiction has always dwelt at the heart of places we hope never to find ourselves in: the vacancies left in lives by the kidnapped child or the lost lover; the mined no-man's-land that follows extreme violence or sexual obsession. His subject has always been damage and the way the darkest events in a life will drain the rest of love. For McEwan, happiness has rarely gone unpunished.

» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
McEwan, Ianprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verhoef, RienTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilby, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For instance? Well, for instance, what it means to be a man. In a city. In a century. In transition. In a mass. Transformed by science. Under organised power. Subject to tremendous controls. Ina condition caused by mechanization. After the late failure of radical hopes. In a society that was no community and devalued the person. Owing to the multiplied power of numbers which made the self negligible. Which spent military billions against foreign enemies but would not pay for order at home. Which permitted savagery and barbarism in its own great cities. At the same time, the pressure of human millions who discovered what concerted efforts and thoughts can do. As megatons of water shape organisms on the ocean floor. As tides polish stones. As winds hollow cliffs. The beautiful supermachinery opening a new life innumerable mankind. Would you deny them the right to exist? Would you ask them to labor and go hungry while you yourself enjoyed old-fashioned Values? You-you yourself are a child of this mass and a brother to all the rest. Or else an ingrate, dilettante, idiot. There, Herzog, thought Herzog, since you ask for the instance, is the way it runs.
-- Herzog, Saul Bellow, 1964
To Will and Greg McEwan
First words
Some hours before dawn Henry Perowne, a neurosurgeon, wakes to find himself already in motion, pushing back the covers from a sitting position, and then rising to his feet.
Kdyby Perowne projevoval sklony k náboženství, k nadpřirozeným vysvětlením, mohl by si pohrávat s představou, že byl povolán: tím, že byl probuzen a s neobvykle povzbuzenou myslí bezdůvodně přistoupil k oknu, měl by vzít na vědomí jakýsi skrytý řád, vnější inteligenci, jež mu chce sdělit nebo ukázat něco významného. Jenže neklidné město si nespavce doslova pěstuje, samo o sobě je nespící entitou, jejíž komunikační dráty nikdy nepřestávají bzučet, a mezi tolika miliony se musejí najít lidé, kteří se dívají z okna v době, kdy by normálně spali. A nejsou to každou noc titíž lidé. Že by tím vyvoleným měl být on, a ne někdo jiný, je náhoda. Ve hře je prostý antropogenetický princip. Primitivní přemýšlení o nadpřirozenu má sklony přerůst v to, čemu jeho kolegové psychiatři říkají představa o vlastní důležitosti. Přehánění jedine, přetváření světa v souladu s vlastními potřebami, neschopnost přemýšlet o vlastní bezvýznamnosti. Z Henryho hlediska patří takové uvažování do spektra, na jehož vzdáleném konci se jako opuštěný chrám tyčí psychóza. (s. 21)
Takhle začíná onen dlouhý proces, v jehož průběhu se stáváte dítětem svého dítěte. A nakonec od něj jednoho dne uslyšíte třeba: "Tati, jestli zase začneš brečet, jde se okamžitě domů." (s. 33)
Jaké štěstí, že žena, kterou miluje, je zároveň jeho manželka. (s. 40)
Tenhle všední cyklus usínání a probouzení, ve tmě pod vlastní přikrývkou, s další bytostí, bledá, hebká, citlivá bradavka, přibližující se obličeje v rituálu lásky, nakrátko zabydlené ve věčné potřebe tepla, pohodlí, bezpečí, proplétání údů, aby bylo možno přitáhnout se k sobě blíž - prostá denní útěcha, snad až příliš samozřejmá, že se na ni dá za úsvitu snadno zapomenout. Zaznamenal to kdy nějaký básník? (s. 49)
Sex je jiný živel, láme čas a rozum, je biologický hyperprostor vzdálený od vědomé existence tak jako sny nebo jako voda od vzduchu. Jiný živel, jak říkávala jeho matka, jiný živel - když si zaplaveš, Henry, den se ti promění. A dnešek bude jistě v porovnání s ostatnými jedinečný. (s.50)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0099469685, Paperback)

Saturday, February 15, 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man - a successful neurosurgeon, the devoted husband of Rosalind and proud father of two grown-up children. Unusually, he wakes before dawn, drawn to the window of his bedroom and filled with a growing unease. What troubles him as he looks out at the night sky is the state of the world - the impending war against Iraq, a gathering pessimism since 9/11, and a fear that his city and his happy family life are under threat. Later, Perowne makes his way to his weekly squash game through London streets filled with hundreds of thousands of anti-war protestors. A minor car accident brings him into a confrontation with Baxter, a fidgety, aggressive, young man, on the edge of violence. To Perowne's professional eye, there appears to be something profoundly wrong with him. Towards the end of a day rich in incident and filled with Perowne's celebrations of life's pleasures, his family gathers for a reunion. But with the sudden appearance of Baxter, Perowne's earlier fears seem about to be realised.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:27 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

From the pen of a master-the #1 bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Atonement-comes an astonishing novel that captures the fine balance of happiness and the unforeseen threats that can destroy it. A brilliant, thrilling page-turner that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Saturday is a masterful novel set within a single day in February 2003. Henry Perowne is a contented man-a successful neurosurgeon, happily married to a newspaper lawyer, and enjoying good relations with his children. Henry wakes to the comfort of his large home in central London on this, his day off. He is as at ease here as he is in the operating room. Outside the hospital, the world is not so easy or predictable. There is an impending war against Iraq, and a general darkening and gathering pessimism since the New York and Washington attacks two years before. On this particular Saturday morning, Perowne's day moves through the ordinary to the extraordinary. After an unusual sighting in the early morning sky, he makes his way to his regular squash game with his anaesthetist, trying to avoid the hundreds of thousands of marchers filling the streets of London, protesting against the war. A minor accident in his car brings him into a confrontation with a small-time thug. To Perowne's professional eye, something appears to be profoundly wrong with this young man, who in turn believes the surgeon has humiliated him-with savage consequences that will lead Henry Perowne to deploy all his skills to keep his family alive.… (more)

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