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Black Dogs by Ian McEwan
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Black Dogs (1992)

by Ian McEwan

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1,920435,402 (3.43)140

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English (33)  Spanish (2)  Hebrew (2)  Italian (2)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  Danish (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (43)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
This books deals with complex issues (ideologies and how they affect our lives and relationships, war and politics, marriage and families), but it's written in such a careful, beautiful way that it's very accessible. I loved it. ( )
  sprainedbrain | Dec 1, 2018 |
This did not succeed for me on many levels. It seemed the same story was told over and over without making much more sense each time. I found the narrator and his in-laws, who are really the only major characters, both uninteresting and annoying. There didn't seem to be much point to any of it except some very over flowery writing and pseudo-mystic babble. Very disappointing.
  amyem58 | Jul 14, 2018 |
I found this an odd sort of McEwan. Not odd in the usual off-the-wall odd McEwan style, but odd in that I'm not quite sure what I made of it.

Set in the 1980s, the protagonist dips in and out of the past as he tries to piece together the reason for the broken relationship of his in-laws as he toys with writing the memoir of his deceased mother-in-law. Although the two had been estranged for many years before her death, both clearly still loved the other.

At its core is the tale of how the two young lovers were both wedded in their devotion to communism, until the aftermath of WWII unravelled their beliefs. The husband found his answers in science, and when his wife has a frightening encounter with two large black dogs believed to be offspring of those used by the Gestapo, his scientific mind cannot grasp her beliefs in superstition and mysticism.

It's delicate in its handling of the complexities of marriage and of the many significant points which underpin a relationship, but somehow it just didn't do it for me. I wasn't altogether in step with exactly what McEwan was trying to do with the novel.

3 stars - definitely not my favourite McEwan. ( )
  AlisonY | Jun 10, 2018 |
The first of Ian McEwan's books that I have read; a freebie from a former work colleague.
I found it refeshingly ordinary - in terms of the narrative. As a lover of the gothic and fantastical this very down to earth story was a welcome change.
McEwan has a wonderful gift for illuminating the internal anxieties and ideas of his characters that I felt close to and really opens up his world and makes it breathe.
Looking forward to reading more. ( )
  M.Rudd | Feb 25, 2018 |
A classic McEwan in that this novel is not so much a story as a study.

Jeremy, orphaned as a child and raised half-heartedly by his single mom sister, became very close to his inlaws. This novel is his trying to piece together and understand the reasons for their extended (decades long) separation. Basically it sounds like a bit of misunderstanding and a lot of stubbornness and unwillingness to understand the other.

OK--the second half was more interesting. ( )
  Dreesie | Apr 12, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
An uneasy mixture of mystery, contemporary history, and novel of ideas.
added by jburlinson | editNew York Review of Books, Kerry Fried (pay site) (Jan 14, 1993)
 
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Epigraph
In these times I don't, in a manner of speaking, know what I want; perhaps I don't want what I know and want what I don't know.
-Marsilio Ficino, letter to Giovanni Cavalcanti, c. 1475
Dedication
TO JON COOK, WHO
SAW THEM TOO
First words
Ever since I lost mine in a road accident when I was eight, I have had my eye on other people's parents.
Quotations
It is photography itself that creates the illusion of innocence. Its ironies of frozen narrative lend to its subjects an apparent unawareness that they will change or die. It is the future they are innocent of. Fifty years on we look at them with the godly knowledge of how they turned out after all--who they married, the date of their death--with no thought for who will one day be holding photographs of us.
"The truth is we love each other, we've never stopped, we're obsessed. And we failed to do a thing with it. We couldn't make a life. We couldn't give up the love, but we wouldn't bend to its power. . . . Whenever I'm complaining about some latest social breakdown in the newspapers, I have to remind myself--why should I expect millions of strangers with conflicting interests to get along when I couldn't make a simple society with the father of my children, the man I've loved. . . ?
[H]e was struck by the recently concluded war not as a historical, geopolitical fact but as a multiplicity, a near infinity of private sorrows. . . .
"The work we have to do is with ourselves if we're ever going to be at peace with each other."
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385494327, Paperback)

Set in late 1980s Europe at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Black Dogs is the intimate story of the crumbling of a marriage, as witnessed by an outsider. Jeremy is the son-in-law of Bernard and June Tremaine, whose union and estrangement began almost simultaneously. Seeking to comprehend how their deep love could be defeated by ideological differences Bernard and June cannot reconcile, Jeremy undertakes writing June's memoirs, only to be led back again and again to one terrifying encouner forty years earlier--a moment that, for June, was as devastating and irreversible in its consequences as the changes sweeping Europe in Jeremy's own time. In a finely crafted, compelling examination of evil and grace, Ian McEwan weaves the sinister reality of civiliation's darkest moods--its black dogs--with the tensions that both create love and destroy it.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:08 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Black Dogs is built around a brilliant short story, a mesmerically slow-motion encounter with two terrifying dogs by an English couple who are honeymooning just after the war in a French mountain village.

» see all 4 descriptions

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